Combustible Celluloid
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With: Vin Diesel, Eiza González, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce, Lamorne Morris, Talulah Riley, Alex Hernandez, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson
Written by: Jeff Wadlow, Eric Heisserer, based on a story by Jeff Wadlow, and on a comic book by Kevin VanHook, Bob Layton, Don Perlin
Directed by: David S. F. Wilson
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, some suggestive material and language
Running Time: 109
Date: 03/13/2020

Bloodshot (2020)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Sore Eyes

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A pretty good starter sci-fi idea is mostly ruined by bludgeoning action sequences, vacant characters, and a need to completely wring the life out of whatever cleverness the movie might once have had.

In Bloodshot, soldier Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is on a mission in Kenya, where he rescues a hostage and kills a terrorist. Later, he is kidnapped. A man, Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell), kills his wife when Ray is unable to provide the details behind the mission. He then shoots Ray. Astonishingly, Ray wakes up to discover that Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) has brought him back to life, using micro-biotechnology, and has turned him into a super-soldier, though he can't remember anything.

When a song triggers a memory of the killing, Ray's first reaction is to hit the road and get revenge. However, when the task is finished, he learns that everything that has happened has been a lie, that he is being used. Will he remember what's going on the next time he's rebooted?

Based on a popular comic book, Bloodshot doesn't really feel like a superhero movie as much as it does one of the lesser Fast & Furious movies, all dumb swagger, chaotic fights, and slo-mo explosions. Both the heroes and the villains are so tediously one-note, it almost doesn't matter who wins. Given the basic skeleton of the story, and its potentially interesting twists, it could have really been something. In other hands, it might even have been as good as Memento (which, incidentally, starred Pearce, this movie's villain).

But first-time director David S. F. Wilson, whose previous work has largely been in video games, takes the easy way out, going for spectacle, traditional plot arcs, and a tidy wrap-up, rather than using the idea of identity and memory in any kind of interesting way.

Wilson does manage one fairly interesting fight sequence in a blocked-off tunnel filled with powdery clouds of dust, and an amusing supporting character, coding genius Wilfred Wigans (Lamorne Morris) brightens up a few of the later scenes, but for the most part Bloodshot is a wearingly empty entertainment.

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