Are you sick of super hero movies? Do you dislike Vin Diesel? Have you already seen the trailer for Bloodshot?
If the answer was NO to all three of those questions then stop reading this review at the end of this paragraph and go and watch the film immediately. Persevere through the seemingly generic opening and I guarantee you will be rewarded with a genuinely entertaining and inventive film.
For all those that stayed be warned, like the trailer I mentioned there will be major spoilers ahead.
Your first thought might be why would the trailer for Bloodshot spoil such a satisfying and superb twist that is found 45 minutes into the movie? The answer sadly is that it seems the marketing people did not believe in the skills of first time director Dave Wilson and writers Jeff Wadlow (Kick Ass 2) and Eric Heisserer (Bird Box and Arrival) in adapting the comic character of the same name and that is very disappointing.
As I mentioned the opening to Bloodshot treads incredibly familiar ground as we watch U.S. Marine Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) single handedly and successfully handle a rescue mission on foreign soil only to return home and be kidnapped along with his loving wife Gina (Westworld’s Talulah Riley) by an evil gang of mercenaries.
The leader of the nefarious group makes Ray watch as he murders Gina and then kills the heroic marine. But death is not the end and Ray finds himself resurrected and rebuilt by Rising Spirit Tech a company that specialises in helping and enhancing disabled US veterans transforming them into super humans.
Armed with immense strength, lightning reflexes and a healing factor that can seemingly withstand anything Ray also has a mission to seek revenge on the man who took away his love and his life. If all that sounds trite and terribly over done it is because it is and it is meant to be and that is the beauty of Bloodshot.
The twist is that Ray has not been brought back to be the avenging hero he thinks he is. His memories are all implants engineered by evil genius and head of Rising Spirit Tech Dr. Emil Harting (Mento’s Guy Pearce) who simply places the face of whoever he wants eliminated over the arch villain in Ray’s tragic backstory. He then winds him up and sends him on his destructive way before resetting and wiping everything from Ray’s mind to do it all over again this time putting another face and another target in his sights all of which makes Bloodshot the ultimate assassin.
Twisting the origin story on its head like this is genius and although not entirely original it provides a breath of fresh air in the crowded cloud of boring big budget super hero movies that seems to cover every cinema and TV screen. It also allows the viewer to forgive the formulaic first act as we watch the whole thing play out again with Ray unaware he is being used as a living weapon to serve the Dr’s whims.
Having worked predominantly in Visual Effects for games and movies director Dave Wilson delivers not only some stunning special effects but some amazingly stylish and violent action sequences as well as a riveting riff on the gaming world as we see Ray’s mind and memories being constructed like a level of a first person shooter.
Following the action super star footsteps of Stallone and Schwarzenegger before him Vin Diesel as ever plays the same character he always does in action films and this works even better here seeing as Bloodshot is in some ways a deconstruction of the tropes and traditions of the genre.
Alongside the star there are some excellent performances from Guy Pearce, Outlands Sam Heughan, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson and the always excellent Toby Kebbell. Both female leads Talulah Riley and Baby Driver’s Eiza González do the best they can with the very limited material they are given and Lamorne Morris from New Girl provides comedic relief alongside his terrible British accent.
Evoking Upgrade, Robocop and Hardcore Henry in areas of the story and style Bloodshot is also full of all the elements you would want from an action epic keeping its audience entertained and proving there are more ways to do an origin story than repeating what has gone before.