Given how indulged audiences have been of late with the increasing number of quality comic-book movies (both of the Marvel and DC variety), something like Bloodshot can’t help but feel a little like an obvious cash-grab. And outside of the comic-book genre, Leigh Whannell’s nano-budgeted actioner Upgrade beat this film entirely to the punch, with the two films sharing a similar narrative that Bloodshot‘s more teen-friendly rating can’t entirely rake advantage of.
Bloodshot isn’t an entirely pointless excursion though, it utilises what it can out of its heightened premise – and, at one point, even acknowledges the heft of cliches it appears to be borrowing from other offerings – has a few neat special effects and action sequences (a late-in-the-game face-off atop an elevator provides some momentary thrills), and Vin Diesel delivers the monotone gruffness we’ve come to expect, so at least his brand is on point once more.
There’s potential damage to be done to your own psyche should you lower your brain capacity to the “switch off and have fun” mentality this film adheres to, but we’ve most likely dimmed our intelligence for something far worse, so as it stands as a slice of macho-driven celluloid, David S. F. Wilson’s superhero effort is no worse nor better than other lower-level genre pieces we’ve all happily accepted as face-value fluff.
The story itself wishes it could shock viewers with its “twist” (spoiler: it’s all laid out in the trailer), but you’re likely to see it coming all the same as Diesel’s solider Ray Garrison learns that the idyllic lifestyle he appears to have with his blonde lady love (Talulah Riley) is all manufactured imagery he’s had implanted into his head. He’s nothing more than a literal body of work for a smarmy paramilitary figure head (Guy Pearce, enjoying his villainy) who’s slowly working through his own assassination hit-list that Ray has been programmed to execute.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Ray’s blood has been replaced with billions of “nanites”, microscopic worker ants that essentially repair Ray from the inside out, giving him a sort of “Wolverine on steroids” vibe that makes him close to being immortal. It’s all standard, outlandish comic-book nonsense really, and had it been under the Marvel canon it would’ve probably resulted in the type of box-office breaking, audience-adored fare we’re used to by now. But the Jeff Wadlow-Eric Heisserer script (who collectively have a varied resume that includes Final Destination 5, Arrival, Bird Box, Fantasy Island and Kick-Ass 2) never really decides to elevate its mindset above the 13-year-old market it wants to corner.
Basically, if you ask yourself “why” throughout a large portion of Bloodshot – like, if Eiza Gonzalez’s similarly enhanced warrior KT breathes through an apparatus moulded in the centre of her chest, then why does she struggle for air through her mouth after villainous Pearce momentarily halts her breathing implant – then your overthinking process will entirely destroy any type of enjoyment you may gather from this goofy experience. If you want to get on board though, simply embrace Diesel and the sci-fi/superhero mash-up this film attempts to be and let Bloodshot and all its well-intentioned nanites wash over you.