Directed By Dave Wilson
Starring – Vin Diesel, Guy Pearce, Laramie Morris
The Plot – Ray Garrison (Diesel), 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 his: Can he even trust himself?
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, some suggestive material and adult language
– Special effects. Over the course of a career that entails mostly video game detail, as well as some post production work on “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, Wilson brings with him an combination of energy and experimentation that explores the true science fiction nature of the genre classification. There’s a sheer influence of video game textures and illustrations that fill the many revitalization scenes involving Diesel’s character, making everything that transpires in the film feel grimly surreal when played against the diminishing humanity of the character. In addition to this, the artificial conjuring of background landscapes being presented in the dream sequences harvest enough believability in the scale of what surrounds us, all the while maintaining the air of fantastical obviousness that springs from the way everything is pieced together in frame like a jigsaw puzzle of a thousand pieces.
– Fast start. I appreciate in any film where the story doesn’t require firm patience before getting moving, and clearly “Bloodshot” is among the candidates in this important category. Almost immediately, we are introduced to Ray, his mission as a Special Ops agent, and his most important relationship with his loving girlfriend. A few minutes later, everything changes, and at nearly ten minutes into the film we have the central plot being pieced together, leaving plenty of time for what plays out because of it. The additional pacing is equally continuous, never slowing down even briefly for the entirety of the 100 minute run time that keeps the urgency firmly in tow. This might not have been a film that even closely won me over, but it was an easy sit when I consider some of the slow-moving garbage that I am forced to endure on an almost daily basis.
– Sound intensity. Easily the highlight of the film for me was the combination of immersive sound mixing and precise sound editing, which reached technical mastery for the film’s post-production. When the film isn’t whizzing bullets by our heads in foreign enemy territory, the echoing of walls crumbling and buildings smashing gives us a soundtrack of devastation that is sure to rattle a theater with even the weakest of speaker technology. This element alone reminded me several times that this is above anything else an action film, and one that vividly paints a story in itself for the way it outlines what is taking place on-screen. In fact, the sound is so tightly illustrated and so full of expanding velocity, that I often found myself closing my eyes, and still seeing the conflicts being played out in a way that didn’t settle for the jumbled deficit of attention being served up from overcomplicating the many action set pieces.
– Outdated production. “Bloodshot” easily reminded me of an early 2000’s release, when films like “Hitman” or “Gamer” were the best we could expect from science fiction action based on a foreign brand of media. I say that because the familiar signs of cliche’d cinema from that age are made prominently influential in ways that don’t improve the quality of this picture. For one, the abundance of slow motion during action set pieces create an unnecessary annoyance, which not only slow down what in reality isn’t even that incredible to begin with, but also extends sequences in a way that tests your patience each time they go to an already dry well that they film drinks from one too many times. Beyond this, the horrendous looking color pallet is a bit too simplistic for my taste, in that the war sequences gleam with a yellowish tint, and anything post-death for Ray is given an almost metallic grey rendering. It makes the presentation for the film so visually unappealing that you wish it were in black and white, and creates an eyesore from the film’s opening introduction.
– Confusing editing. Not only is the shotgun editing compromising towards depicting what is transpiring during scenes of physical conflict, but when it’s used to transition into a new scene, it makes for moments of awkwardness where the lack of clarity makes it difficult distinguishing what is fantasy and what is reality. One such scene involves Ray’s daily routine set to montage format, being played in between these scenes taking place in real time of Pearce’s character discussing his intentions with Ray. It’s confusing because one obviously takes place in a lone conversation, when everything else is definitely over the course of a few days in the life of this awakening nightmare. This wouldn’t be a problem if the sequence itself was cut anything like a montage usually is, flowing like one continuous conversation or song being played over what’s taking place in the forefront, and not just a series of quick-cuts in between each side, which makes it paste together like sides in the context of just one continuous scene.
– Problems with the gimmick. One of the least appealing characters to watch in cinema is the protagonist who lacks the vulnerability to leave his audience on the edge of their seats. It’s firmly established in the first act of the movie that Ray has been given gifts that cure him immediately of any brutal pain that he has succumbed to, and what this does is remove any doubt for a single minute that his character will ever face any kind of monumental peril that places his well-being in doubt. Sure, there’s a tweaking of the film’s antagonist illustrating the line of control that he has over him, but the film never tests Ray’s weakness for even anything longer than a single scene, which feels more like an inconvenience than a long stay in complication, but never a moment that chips the tough guy shield of armor that we’ve come to expect from Diesel characters. Thus offering nothing fresh from Ray that makes him different from Xander Cage, or Kaulder, or even Dominic Toretto.
– Wasted cast. Speaking of performances, the entirety of them here are wasted. The closest example of a passing grade is New Girl’s Laramie Morris juggling the comic muscle of the movie while playing an against-type British scientist. This is the closest example of challenging depth in a role that the movie has to offer. For everyone else, it’s familiarity in the same one-note roles that each of them have played for an entire career. Diesel as Ray has no degree of varying complexity or defining traits from the roles I mentioned previously above, nor does his dramatic flare show up anywhere close to the surface level during a scene where his emotional resonance should shake the ground, when his wife is brutally killed. Guy Pearce also sleeps through his role, outlining a character arc that you could accurately predict even if you knew nothing about this movie, nor saw any of the trailers. There’s nothing menacing or compelling about his intention in the film, and he would stick out much more for his phoning in if he was given an even remotely stimulating performance in opposite Diesel.
– Tonal shifts. Any film with a mostly serious demeanor can expect to have moments of comic expression that serves as a moment of breath for the audience who have been put through the ringer both dramatically and intensely. However, the dependency of Morris being exerted into the film soils most of the moments that require deep thinking or audience uncertainty to what is unpeeling before our very eyes. What we get are a series of punchlines that Morris uses, which always seem to lighten the mood during the worst moments, and compromise the urgency of the story in ways that lessen the impact of the antagonist grip on Ray and the film’s primary conflict.
– Predictable. Easily the biggest problem the film has is its inability to divert from even the smallest of expectations that I had before sitting down for the film. If you’ve seen the trailers for “Bloodshot”, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Not only does it reveal the mysterious antagonist for the film, but it also reveals what this person uses to lure Ray into a false sense of security. The trailer isn’t the lone fault however, as this film’s screenplay is as close to “Universal Soldier” as plagiarism would allow, and leaves so very little wiggle room when you consider it blocks off every road of spontaneity that it sets up for itself and then never follows through on. It’s difficult enough to follow a movie with very few positives, but even worse in a movie that you’re constantly five steps ahead on during all times, and it feels like the trailer is a 100% right-on representation of what the film is about.
– As an adaptation. Everything listed above could be forgiven if the film above all else was a solid adaptation, but the deeper you are in the graphic novel of “Bloodshot”, the more problems you start to see arise for the big screen adaptation of such. On a summarizing level, the film does hit all of the familiar beats that fans of the comics most remember from their time encased in between its pages, but when you look a bit closer you start to see the small details of difference adding up into big adversity that the film has to overcome. For one, it’s the devilish deeds that this corporation does to children in the novels, which are never even hinted at here. This not only helps us to realize their program’s grip on the world, but also fleshes them out in a way that grants them the kind of easy to illustrate hatred that is never present in the film. In addition to this, the books dabble deeply into Ray’s personal life previous to the untimely death, where he was known as Angelo Mortalli, and where he served as a rising figure in a New York City crime family. This would obviously compromise his angle as a special ops soldier, but the film could definitely use more emphasis on who Ray was before it went south. This would not only help us to easier invest in him, but also offer a shade of diversity in a growing field of post-Punisher protagonist that the literary and silver screen worlds have no shortage of.
My Grade: 3/10 or F+