In an uncertain world with uncertain times, it’s nice to know we can rely on the certainty of Vin Diesel starring in an action flick. His latest, Bloodshot, is set to hit theaters this weekend.
The story, based on the Valiant Comics series of the same name, is one that adopts some similar sci-fi beats. Career soldier Ray Garrison (Diesel) is killed in action. But shadowy organization RST Corporation miraculously brings him back to life, enhancing him with revolutionary nanotech in place of blood. He can self-regenerate when injured, has enhanced speed and strength, and can hack into virtually any mainframe. There’s just one catch – RST, namely its founder, Dr. Emil Harting, can control him and manipulate him through the nanotech, even shut him down. Soon, Ray starts to realize that his mission of vengeance might be built on a lie and the cherished memories he holds might not be real and it’s up to him to break free of RST’s control.
So, does Dave Wilson’s vision honor the comics? Does Ray/Bloodshot get his revenge? Does Vin Diesel go Peak Vin Diesel? Read on for three reasons you might want to watch Bloodshot when it hits theaters.
1. Yes, It Is Very Much Peak Vin Diesel
There are three things any Vin Diesel movie requires: 1. Him to have a scene in bed with a scantily-clad, beautiful woman. 2. Him to wear a sleeveless tank top. 3. A fight sequence. Vin Diesel fandom, you’ll be happy to know that Bloodshot checks all three boxes and so many more Diesel-isms.
The beauty of Diesel’s acting is that he always approaches whatever he’s in with deadly seriousness, no matter how ridiculous the premise. That earnestness is on full display here, even through some questionable plotting and questionable lines – but then, there’s no actor who can sell a cheesy line and somehow make it work quite like Diesel. The man was born to look another character dead in the eyes and deliver a line like “I live my life a quarter-mile at a time” without a hint of irony and immediately make it iconic. And while Guy Pearce, who has cornered the market on morally questionable genius types, gets the lion’s share of clunky lines thanks to him having to deliver all the expository scientific gobbledy-gook to the audience, nonetheless, this movie is pure Vin Diesel. He knows he’s the star and it knows he knows he’s the star, and neither Diesel nor the movie pretend otherwise.
In one particularly gloriously self-indulgent scene, there is a close-up of Diesel’s flexing, nanotech-enhanced bicep as he does curls with a ponderously heavy weight. It’s just one of many scenes meant to showcase Diesel’s ripped physique and how many hours he works on it. “The world is Vin Diesel’s playground,” Bloodshot screams, “and he is the badass that allows you to live in it.” Fantastic.
2. Some Of The CGI Is Mesmerizing
Setting aside the wonky comic book science of the plot, there’s no denying that the concept of a man who has had his blood replaced by nanotech robots makes for some truly eye-popping visual effects. You get a taste of this in the trailer above, when Harting cuts Ray’s hand and we see how his skin knits back together as the tiny bots do their work of healing him in real-time. But the visuals really get fun when they go big with the nanotech aspect. A slow-motion shot of Ray getting half his face blown off by a shotgun blast shows a beautiful spray not of blood, but of microscopic black particles that swirl and coalesce around him before regrouping and flowing back into him to reform his face, a minuscule murmuration of birds pivoting on a dime and moving as one. Other shots of him getting blown apart by bomb blasts in a swirling miasma of particles before reforming, looking like a demonic sci-fi Jesus, are equally cool. And fist bumps to you if you spot the shot that is a clear homage to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator.
However, you might have noticed I said “some” of the CGI is mesmerizing, not “all.” Unfortunately, the rest of the visual effects in the action sequences fail to match the level achieved with the nanotech visuals. In particular, any action sequence that involves the bionic legs of Sam Heughan’s inexplicably hostile Jimmy Dalton are jarringly intangible and unfinished, which is a shame, as the close-up shots involving the prosthetics, like his legs and Harting’s robot hand, are really well-done and seamless.
3. Ah, What The Hell – It’s A Popcorn Action Flick
Like I said at the start of this review, these are trying times. Sometimes, you just need an escape. Not every movie needs to have a message or deeper layers; sometimes, exactly what you need is to be entertained for a few hours. And this is just that, about as pure an action vehicle as you could hope for. It’s exactly the movie you think it’s going to be: Vin Diesel gets the girl, he beats the bad guy. That’s it. That’s what he does. And it works.
Look, I’m not going to lie to you. Bloodshot doesn’t exactly evolve the action franchise like, say, John Wick. In fact, it doesn’t even shoot the action sequences particularly well. Along with the shaky CGI, the action is often fuzzy and too close-up, and the blocking is off, particularly in one big action setpiece set in a tunnel. But at the end of the day, you’re probably not looking for evolution or innovation if you’re going to see this movie; you’re looking for Vin Diesel to punch some bad guys and win the day. And in that, Bloodshot delivers in spades. If you want a movie that just lets you have a good time without thinking much about it for a few hours, this is the one for you. Have fun, Diesel fans.
Bloodshot is in theaters this Friday. Get tickets here.