By: John M Jerva

REVIEW: BLOODSHOT

STARRING: Vin Diesel, Eiza Gonzalez, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Talulah Riley, Lamorne Morris and Guy Pearce

DIRECTED BY: Dave S. F. Wilson

Official Synopsis: Ray Garrison, an elite soldier who was killed in battle, is brought back to life by an advanced technology that gives him the ability of super human strength and fast healing. With his new abilities, he goes after the man who killed his wife, or at least, who he believes killed his wife. He soon comes to learn that not everything he learns can be trusted. The true question is: Can he even trust himself?

THE REVIEW: I was never a super fan of the Valiant comic book Bloodshot but I was aware of the character and did sample a few of what the super soldier had to offer throughout the years and I did love the interpretation that he was given with former White Ranger Jason David Frank in the webseries Ninjak Versus the Valiant Universe. I actually will be reviewing that one as well and I even interviewed the star Michael Rowe of it last year and will be reprinting that piece where we talk about the series on this new website. I feel that his stab at the role was probably more faithful to the comic books then Diesel’s but as a standalone film, this one is a rock solid albeit flawed action film with Diesel delivering some pretty impressive action set pieces.

Now we we all know that Diesel is looking for a new franchise to hunker down with as his Fast and Furious franchise is winding down and it looked like this one may have been it but sadly it looks like it will not happen as this film is a casualty of the pandemic going on right now so we will never really know just how successful it could have been. It might still have bombed but with the film coming out the weekend before all the theaters closed down was definitely not a good sign as well.

Diesel stars as Marine Ray Garrison and Bloodshot opens up with a pretty bad ass action sequence as Ray and his team storm a building to rescue a hostage. The scene is loaded with some nasty gunplay and sets the audience up with visuals that will enhance the action as the story moves along. It really is a cool Rambo-esque moment and I loved it for an intro to the movie as it set the tone for the rest.

After his successful hostage extraction, Garrison and his wife Gina (Talulah Riley) get kidnapped by wanted terrorist Martin Axe, played gleefully over the top by Toby Kebbell, who is pissed off that Garrison ruined his plans during that raid. Unfortunately for Ray, Axe kills Gina right in front of him and then murders Ray himself thus setting the stage for the rest of the film.

Garrison is brought back to life through the use of advanced nano-technology and scientist Dr. Emil Harting, portrayed by Guy Pearce who elevates any film he is. Ray learns that he is now pretty much indestructable and part of a team of supersoldiers who include ex-Navy SEAL Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan) and KT played by Eiza Gonzalez who gets a lot more to do here then she did in Hobbs and Shaw. Each person suffered a terrible loss to their bodies only to be recreated through advanced technology and Garrison is the main course as his body can now self heal making him the ultimate superweapon.

Things go awry for Harting and company, as Garrison eventually remembers what happened to him and his wife and sets out to track Axe down and eliminate him and his mercs with extreme prejudice but after the fact, he realises that there is a bigger conspiracy at play here and Harting is not all that he seems.

Now say what you will about Vin Diesel but I have always enjoyed his movies and he always delivers the action goods with Riddick probably being my favorite of his. Dominic Toretto is good too but Riddick has always been one of my favorite anti-heroes next to The Punisher.

Here, Diesel attempts to start something new with Ray Garrison AKA Bloodshot but unfortnately the character is never fully explored. Now I know this was the first of a planned franchise and the start of a Valiant cinematic universe but I felt that the filmmakers could have given Garrison more layer especially for those fans who were unfamiliar with the comic book. Yeah we know that he’s a Marine and we know that he’s bad but aside from him showing emotion over his wife, there’s never really much there in terms of character. Now did this deter me from enjoying the film? Of course not but it still would have been nice.

The cast is pretty good surrounding Diesel with Pearce giving it his all as always as the sinister Harting. We know that he’s probably bad from the start but we still enjoy the ride as Pearce brings his usual aura of gravitas to this one. Like I said before, Eiza Gonzalez gets to have way more fun here unlike Hobbs and Shaw where she was pretty much only in the movie for five minutes and she radiates some bad assery herself towards the end of the film.

Sam Heughan’s character of Jimmy Dalton is pretty disposable but he fills the void as one of the threats that Diesel’s Garrison eventually has to throwdown with in the film’s many exciting action scenes. Dalton is also one dimensional but from an action standpoint, he is there for a purpose and it is exciting to see him cross paths with Garrison in the climax.

Lamorne Morris has a great time with his character of tech specialist Wilfred Wigans who eventually teams up with Garrison and KT and he gleefully accepts his purpose as the movie’s comic relief. Morris does go over the top a few times but I found myself laughing occassionally at some of his lines.

Now in a movie like this, plot is secondary to the action and here director Dave S.F. Wilson knows that his audience wants some and he gives it to them. The intro rocks but the best scene out of the film probably comes about 35 minutes in as Garrison, newly resurrected with nano-technology, embarks on his kill mission for Axe. The scene is lit up in fiery red and with flour all over the place filling the air from a truck that was demolished which makes for a striking look. The sequence amps up with some truly creative and kick butt visuals as Diesel carves his way through a gauntlet of mercenaries who are good but in way over their heads. The film’s use of slo-mo is pretty sweet too and watching Diesel go all out in bear mode is always a treat and here he looks the best he ever has. You just have to watch it as me describing it to you just doesn’t do it any justice but as an action film buff, I was loving every minute of that scene and wanted more.

Unfortunately, that scene was the best and probably should have been at the ending but not to say that the rest of the action scenes aren’t good, I just felt that it peeked there. There is a rather thrilling chase through crowded city streets and the film really shows its comic book side at the end when Garrison goes after Harting and his crew and finally starts to look like the comic cook version of the character. There is a heavy dose of CGI however which may throw some off to it. We really never get to see Diesel in full on Bloodshot looks but that probably would have been something for the sequel which sadly will probably never come. Fans of the comic will surely hate that aspect of it as some artist renditions of Diesel that surfaced during production showed a pretty cool looking “what could have been.” This was an origin story so Diesel probably would have suited up true to form in other installments.

Another aspect of the film is its score composed by Steve Jablonsky which is a pulse pounding fever dream of music that enhances the film’s action sequences and really is its own character. I remembered thinking to myself that the music was great while viewing the film and thought that it really gave the scenes a true sense of bombastic appeal.

All in all, Bloodshot is far from perfct but as a 109 minute action movie with Diesel doing what he does best, it really is a fun watch and action fans who don’t know the charcater will and should have a fun time with it. True fans will tear it apart but I saw it for what it was and that’s a rock solid and visually striking action flick that kicked it in high gear from the get go. As of now with the theaters closed, the film stands with a $29,749,454 worldwide gross from a modest $45,000,000 budget and hopefully we will get to see this character again as I feel it really hit its stride at the end and more installments truly would enhance the storyline. The film is now available to own on Digital so maybe it willl make more bank there to warrant another outing. We shall see.

Bloodshot is a really cool cat and he would definitely be welcomed for futher adventures from this fan. Diesel isn’t an Ocasr winner by any stretch of the imagination but he always gives the people what they want and here Bloodshot is a rock solid and action packed thrill ride from start to finish. With movie choices limited right now, this one is a welcome addition to any Saturday night viewing.

VERDICT: 3.5 Out Of 5 Stars

ACTION-FLIX APPROVED!

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