Review: ‘Bloodshot,’ Give Me a Double Shot of My Baby’s Love

Vin Diesel, Eiza Gonzalez, Lamorne Morris and Guy Pearce star in the action vehicle, directed by David S.F. Wilson. 

A confusing, and often bewildering, mishmash of narrative ideas, Bloodshot is filled with a near-constant barrage of senseless violence, a near-total absence of heroic behavior, and an overabundance of villainous characters. 

It’s no surprise that the movie is adapted from a comic book series. Created by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin and Bob Layton, and published by Valiant Comics, the titular character made his first appearance in 1992. In the film, Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is a U.S. Marine who has been killed in action and then sold to a secretive bio-technology company, whose mission is to create the ultimate super-soldier.  

Before that happens, we see the Marine in action, leading a successful mission and then spending the night in the comfort of his beloved wife, Gina (Tallulah Riley). In the morning, however, Ray wakes up to an abduction and is promptly whisked away to an underground bunker for torture at the hands of the odious Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell), who dances to Talking Heads “Psycho Killer” and laughs manically before shooting Gina dead. And then he shoots Ray dead, whereupon the screen cuts to black, the credits roll, and I wonder why I spent my own money to rent a movie that is so hateful and nasty. 

Unfortunately, the credits do not roll at this point. Instead, for reasons that never overturned the sick feelings in my stomach that the torture scene generated, the film continues. 

Scientific genius Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) heads the bio-technology company mentioned previously, and patiently explains everything to the disbelieving Marine, telling him that he is the first soldier brought back to life and empowered with the new technology. Neither Ray nor myself believe that, really, and so, again, it’s no surprise when Ray soon takes vengeance into his own two, well-muscled hands, and seeks REVENGE!!!

Attributed to Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer, the screenplay is very difficult to follow, which makes me wonder how it got that way. Certainly, there is some indication that the plot is intended as a mystery, with narrative traps aplenty waiting to be sprung in order to shine more light on an international conspiracy of some sort. Perhaps the underlying intention was to tease out periodic surprises, revealing the true motivations that drive different characters? 

I don’t know. The drama is dire and the action sequences are difficult to follow, even at home, where it is theoretically possible to rewind a scene to see what happened and to whom. By the time Lamorne Morris appears, emitting a lighter comic tone that might have been welcome much earlier in the film, it’s too late to do more than hang on and try to pay attention to how everything plays out. 

As an optimistic person at heart, I’d like to believe that something entertaining might have resulted from all the honest, hard work undertaken by hundreds of people behind the scenes. Alas … not really. 

On the positive side, I enjoyed the performances by Lamorne Morris and Eiza Gonzalez, who both put forth considerable dramatic effort to suggest that their respective characters have something more complex brewing within their souls than might be initially apparent. On the very positive side, I very much enjoyed Guy Pearce, who brings his full range of talents to the screen, bringing the most complex character in the film to believable life. 

What went wrong? Just like the plot of this movie, we may never know. 

The film opened theatrically in Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding cities on Friday, March 20, 2020. It is now available to watch via various Video On Demand platforms. Screened for review via FandangoNOW on Saturday, June 20, 2020. 

For more information about the film, visit the official site.

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