Bloodshot (2020) review: a fun comic book caper with Diesel doing his thing

Bloodshot is not the most groundbreaking start for a hopeful Valiant comics universe but boasts enjoyable throwback nanite-aided action!

At a point when comic book cinema is at its greatest height, maybe it is time for more films to arrive based on other properties that fall outside of usual suspects Marvel and DC. The grounds are now so fertile that we could see virtually anything from a comic book root grow and thrive on the big screen. We live in an age where, in the last few years, two (soon to be three) Ant-Man films have been made, Aquaman became the DCEU’s largest grossing film, Joker swept the board in academy award nominations and Avengers: Endgame dethroned Avatar’s box office crown. Anything is possible and the world seems ready for any new comic book films, let alone one based on successful material and with future aspirations.

Based on the bestselling Valiant Comics character of the same name, and intended to kick start a new shared universe of movies based on other Valiant characters, Bloodshot has landed at a most unfortunate time. One of the last big releases in cinemas before the coronavirus pandemic forced them to temporarily shut, this action/sci-fi from visual effects artist David S. F. Wilson (who makes his directorial debut) is actually a big heap of effects heavy fun.

The film sees soldier Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) and his wife murdered on their holiday. Until Ray confusingly awakens later in a lab run by corporate giant Rising Spirit Tech (subtle guys…), a company that resurrects slain soldiers and modifies them. Ray is informed that not only has he been modified, he’s been enhanced by tiny nanites operating in his bloodstream giving him superhuman abilities. However vengeance is on his mind, as he runs loose to track down his (and his wife’s) killer but the story is far more complex than he could ever expect.

This is a fun watch. Make no mistake you have seen virtually everything here before in other films and the twist (which was in the trailers anyway) will obviously not surprise fans of the source material but nor will it surprise anyone familiar with movies. That being said, Wilson’s film thunders forward and you are never less than entertained by this origin tale.

The effects are mostly of a good degree, though not on par with the biggest in the genre and there are some notable set-pieces in a flour-coated tunnel battle and a falling elevator punch-up (which has Elysium tech touches), all made even punchier by Steve Jablonsky’s rather muscular score. Such content allows Diesel – who is hardly the most multi-layered leading man – to play to his bulky strengths and he does a good job, while the reliably good Guy Pearce, a strong Eiza González and a joyfully scene stealing and very funny Lamorne Morris, do some of the heavier lifting acting wise.

Bloodshot is like a ‘90s action flick crossed with a video game, with a Robocop (more José Padilha than Paul Verhoeven) meets Upgrade DNA structure. It feels like a good early noughties entry in the genre and that’s absolutely fine…I enjoyed it.

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