Apologies, but here’s a big fat spoiler for Bloodshot, the Vin Diesel-starring adaptation of a 1990s alt graphic novel that’s finally gotten the glossy cinematic treatment: Midway through, when Diesel’s hero has started to figure out his origin story, a supporting character tells the big bad, “You’ve used every movie cliche known to man.”
It’s actually a relief, because rarely are movies this dull and uninspired so nakedly self-aware. Over its 110-minute runtime Bloodshot careens between the sheen of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, lens flares, and camera sweeps of a Michael Bay joint. It has the globetrotting of a Bond film, contraptions of Edge of Tomorrow, the holodeck and technobabble from Star Trek, and a whole lot of Matrix-ish bullet time. Yes, we are still doing bullet time in 2020.
Oh, the plot? Yeah, about that. Diesel, who’s already been a superhero several times over — Dominic Toretto, Riddick, and you may have heard that “[He] is groot” — plays Rick Garrison, an Army commando who spends his days rescuing hostages in global hotspots and his weekends on the Italian coast with his dutiful wife (Talulah Riley). Unfortunately, on one of those assignations, Rick’s done dirty and captured by a terrorist who dances to “Psycho Killer” before offing the happy couple.
But fortunately for Rick — and, uh, I guess the universe he inhabits — he’s revived by a cybernetics company that’s developed nanotechnology that allows people to restore damaged body parts, Deadpool style, and he’s invited to join a team of part-human, part-machine mercenaries led by an eccentric scientist (Guy Pearce, basically doing the same shit he did in Iron Man 3).
Rick’s new cyborg buddies (Eiza González, Sam Heughan, Alex Hernandez) all supposedly have names and special abilities, but none memorable enough to keep up with Diesel and Pearce, who — having both been through multiple big-ticket franchises — are the only borderline interesting people on screen. It’s also not much surprise to learn that Bloodshot’s novice director, David S.F. Wilson, is making his jump to the big-screen after a career as a video-game graphic designer. There are shots that would look impressive on a PlayStation, but come across as rote on a movie canvas.
As an adaptation of a lesser-known comic property, though, Bloodshot is more about paychecks and the promise of future installments rather than true entertainment. But this first attempt for a planned cinematic universe based on the Valiant Comics marque is far more of an imitator than pacesetter.
Then again, it’s also one of the few movies that hasn’t been kicked back because of the coronavirus pandemic. The latest installment of the James Bond, Fast & Furious, and Quiet Place series are all on tenterhooks as public venues close down amid the outbreak. So you could venture out and see Bloodshot, but may be better off doing a little social distancing and stay home and queue up any of the dozen films it’s ripping off.