In the crowded genre of comic book movies and superhero franchises, every studio wants to launch their own shared universe. This weekend, it is Sony Pictures' turn to take a shot at such an endeavor as they move forward with a "Valiant Cinematic Universe," starting with Vin Diesel's Bloodshot. Bloodshot is an origin story for a character by the name of Ray Garrison, or so he thinks, in which he is a manipulated and enhanced soldier used to do an evil corporation's bidding. Fans of the comics will recognize the many upcoming twists as the manipulation is revealed, while newcomers to the property might find the writing to be clever, more so than some of its dated humor or action tropes.
Bloodshot is a good enough first entry to warrant an expansion of the Valiant world on the big screen. Vin Diesel gets to be an amplified version of his previous characters like Xander Cage of the xXx franchise or Dominic Toretto from the Fast & Furious world. Through most of the film, Diesel plays the tough, cool hero of the movie that his fans are going to enjoy, but those who don't typically enjoy him surely won't. There is little room for surprise with the actor in this one, aside from director Dave Wilson differentiating the role a bit through impressive action sequences we haven't seen from the actor before. One sequence, in particular, involving a crashed flour truck and an encounter with a convoy where Diesel's Bloodshot discovers his abilities throughout the sequence is especially exciting.
The first act of the film is a bit sluggish, save for a dreamy, villainous appearance from Toby Kebbell that calls for a fun dancing sequence in a briefly menacing performance, only to be flipped on its head later in the film. In fact, the film relies heavily on the supporting cast to get through, which is a task both Guy Pearce and Eiza Gonzalez were up for. Pearce plays a role oddly reminiscent of that of his Iron Man 3 appearance, possibly one of the elements of Bloodshot which give it a bit of a dated feeling. Still, he delivers with each beat of dialogue and delivers the terror when it is called for. Meanwhile, Gonzalez proves that she can hang with the guys here, doing the best she can with the dialogue given to her and most successfully showcasing the film's attempts to discuss what is humanity.
The true thief of the film turns out to be Lamorne Morris, who appears nearly halfway through to give Bloodshot the shot of life it needs to be truly worthwhile. Morris' Wilfred Wigans is the quick and witty tech guy who brings abundant energy and a new dynamic for the cast to interact with. Clearly throwing in a heavy dose of improv under Wilson's light direction, Morris proves that he hangs with the quickest of veteran actors.
Morris aside, some of the humor feels a bit dated, not just because it's politically incorrect, but more in a sense that comedy has evolved beyond some cheap dick jokes. A few other jokes are worthy of laughs, but the attempts at humor are carried by mostly impressive action sequences, some of which tread into CGI-heavy blowouts late in the game, yet ultimately land in the vein of a true comic book movie.
One particular sequence of exposition involving Sam Heughan's enhanced former soldier Dalton plays out like a classic villain scene which should have been rewritten or deleted completely, as the film ultimately shows off its storyline further in. Better and more subtly nuanced writing could have improved the film, which proved to rely on explaining itself before showcasing its purpose. Get the exposition out of the way, and Bloodshot becomes an action-packed ride that ultimately serves as the comic book brought to life.
Bloodshot is not reinventing the crowded and competitive superhero genre. It’s a simple popcorn flick that honorably adapts the source material and ends up being an entertaining, albeit slightly dated action flick. Now, had it come out back in 2005, we might all be losing our minds over it.1comments
Rating: 3 out of 5
Bloodshot lands in theaters on Friday, March 13th.
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