MOVIE REVIEW OF ”BLOODSHOT”

Vin Diesel does a good job of playing himself.  Basically, he plays himself in everything, except in his voice-over performances for the Disney/Marvel “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies. He typifies the celebrity actor, as opposed to the actor’s actor, like either Matthew McConaughey or Leonard DiCaprio.  Diesel realizes his range is narrow, so he confines himself shrewdly to those roles. Sometimes, he ventures outside his comfort zone to act.


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For example, he dressed in a suit, tie, and let his hair grow out for Sidney Lumet’s top-notch courtroom crime drama “Find Me Guilty” (2006) where he was an Italian mobster defending himself!  Currently, Diesel stars in three franchises: “The Fast & Furious,” “Riddick,” and “xXx.”  Incredibly, Lionsgate is planning a Diesel-driven sequel to “The Last Witch Hunter” (2015)!

Now, in his first, live-action, superhero saga, Diesel plays the bestselling Valiant Comic book champion “Bloodshot,” and comparisons between “Universal Soldier” (1992) and it are inevitable. Principally, Diesel’s heroic super-soldier, Ray Garrison, boasts abilities far beyond anything Jean Claude Van-Damme’s Luc Deveraux could muster in “Universal Soldier.”


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Loyal “Bloodshot” fans may criticize this $45-million cinematic adaptation because the filmmakers tampered with its source material.  “Bloodshot” deviates from the comic book origin story about a mobster in witness/protection, Angelo Mortalli, who the FBI betrays.

Instead, Diesel plays a murdered U.S. Marine in freshman film director David Wilson’s “Bloodshot” (*** OUT OF ****) who finds himself resurrected as a virtually invincible warrior. Millions of microscopic nanites swarming in his blood Bloodshot as indestructible as Wolverine.  These predatory, Origami-looking, nano-tech bots heal all injuries within seconds!

Nevertheless, the side effects forge nightmares stemming from his memory loss.  Not surprisingly, Bloodshot shrinks from the revelation that the 21st century equivalent of Dr. Frankenstein has reanimated him.  Initially, Ray Garrison doesn’t remember anything, but he remains convinced someone has murdered his wife and then slain him, too!

Whether in the Valiant Comics or this Columbia Pictures incarnation, “Bloodshot” takes the resurrected “Universal Soldier” type hero to its pinnacle.  Scenarists Jeff Wadlow of “Kick-Ass 2” and Eric Heisserer of “Arrival” appropriate elements from “The Bourne Identity,” “RoboCop,” “Source Code,” “The Matrix,” and “Crank 2.”

Mind you, “Bloodshot” amounts to absurd nonsense, but Diesel’s steely presence makes it worth watching.  Credibility and logic vanish after the slam-bang pre-credit action sequence which concludes with our hero’s demise!  The story unfolds with the tenacious Garrison (Vin Diesel of “The Fast & The Furious”) rescuing a white, male hostage held in Mombasa, Kenya, from a trigger-happy fanatic.  Flown to the nearest base aboard a military transport, Ray reunites with his wife, Gina Garrison (Talulah Riley of “Mojave”), and they take a vacation in scenic Italy.

Abruptly, everything goes sideways.  Psychotic killer Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell of “Warcraft”) abducts Gina and threatens to kill her.  Ray must divulge who tipped him off about the hostages in Mombasa.  Since his superiors didn’t confide in him, Ray doesn’t know.  Abruptly, Axe kills Gina!  Vowing hellfire revenge, Ray advises Axe to finish him off. Axe accepts Ray’s advice and dispatches him.

Although Ray has died, he regains consciousness in the ultra-sophisticated, super-secret nanotechnology labs of Rising Spirit Technology. This is a private military contractor which rebuilds wounded warriors. A bespectacled scientist, Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearson of “Memento”), welcomes an incredulous Ray and celebrates this miraculous resurrection.  Initially, Ray cannot believe he has been brought back from the dead like Lazarus.

Since it is an origins opus, “Bloodshot” concentrates on Ray Garrison’s bionic rebirth. Earlier, Harting’s first experiments involved cybernetic parts implanted in humans augmented as a consequence of their physical handicaps.  First, former Navy rescue diver KT (Eiza Gonzalez of “Baby Driver”) boasts modified lungs, so she is completely immune to chemical inhalants.

Second, although Iraqi artillery took his eyesight, Tibbs (Alex Hernandez of “Samuel’s Game”) has ocular prosthetics linked to an array of cameras that feed data to his optic nerves, so he can see better than ever.  Third, combat deprived Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan of “The Spy Who Dumped Me”) of his feet. Harting engineered robotic replicas for him.

Now, Dalton charges around like a cheetah.  Harting uses KT as the go-between Garrison and himself, while Tibbs and Dalton serve as Harting’s henchmen.  They struggle without success to control Bloodshot when he defies Harting.  Predictably, the rivalry between Bloodshot and Dalton boils over into a cliffhanger scene of close-quarters combat.

As it turns out, Harting uses Bloodshot to murder scientists and technicians who have defected from his ranks.  The RST honcho deludes Ray Garrison into believing each of Harting’s former employees orchestrated the brutal murder of his wife Gina. Eventually, Bloodshot realizes Harting has been manipulating him the entire time.  At this point, Harting dispatches Dalton and Tibbs to retrieve Bloodshot. Predictably, this objective is easier ordered than accomplished.

Director David Wilson indulges himself in an impressive display of computer-generated imagery which illustrates how bullets and bombs disintegrate Bloodshot until his body reassembles itself.  Once our hero realizes Harting and his henchmen constitute his real enemies, Bloodshot resolves to destroy them.  Dalton suits up in a multi-limbed, exoskeletal combat gear that resembles Dr. Otto Octavius in “Spiderman 2” with Toby Maguire.

Clocking in at an hour and forty-nine minutes, “Bloodshot” rarely runs out of either momentum or mayhem.  Once you recover from the showstopping pre-credit sequences, you have the remainder of the movie to admire how our indestructible protagonist contends with the issue of his own immortality.

Repeatedly, Bloodshot’s enemies obliterate him with ordnance, but to little effect, since those nanites mend him in a frenzy.  Occasionally, Bloodshot must recharge himself like Luc Deveraux in “Universal Soldier.” Once Bloodshot engages in combat, however, nothing can defeat him.  Meantime, Wilson stages some stunning action sequences.

In one of the most sensational exploits, Bloodshot barricades an underground tunnel with a demolished 18-wheeler, wipes out an army of mercenaries and then executes one of his primary assailants. Vin Diesel looks like he enjoyed playing this larger-than-life hero in this outrageous but exciting fantasy.

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