Thursday, May 28, 2020

Bloodshot

Spoiler-free!

Based on the Valiant comic books, Bloodshot has a heavy concept of tech-enhanced humans who at one time were seriously wounded, but then become superhuman. KT (Eiza González) lost her lungs. Now a machine breathes for her and does it twice as well. Jimmy (Sam Heughan) had his legs blown off. Tibbs (Alex Hernandez) lost his eyes. Now they have super legs and super sight. (But no, they're not superheroes, that'd be silly.) And Ray (Vin Diesel)? Well. He died.

So Guy Pearce bought his body and replaced his blood with self-healing nanites. Now he's virtually unstoppable. And he only has one thing he needs to do: Kill the man (Toby Kebbell) who killed him and his wife (Talulah Riley). Cue the epic lighting and the slow motion -- it's time for an action scene!

Yep, that's about as gross as this PG-13 flick can get.

Or two. Or twenty. Or somewhere in between. After the concept and set up is explained (which takes a while) there's only really one action scene that stands out. After that, the film begins to fall apart -- like Ray's face reintegrating itself after being blown off, but in reverse. See, they kind of paint themselves in a corner that doesn't allow for much use of the main cool concept of the lead's regeneration abilities. It's shown off a few times and is important once or twice at most, but this movie sold itself completely on that concept. With the plot they have on hand (and perhaps the PG-13 rating was restrictive too) it's a bit of a let-down that we don't see much, or learn anything more about it than we do in the trailer.

The movie gets slowly muddier and muddier, until the action and quips and regurgitated drama all blends into a dull roar and I found myself zoning out by the time the end battle was raging. It happens a lot with films of this caliber. You usually know what you're getting into just by looking at the poster. And if you know, and still go for it, then you know you won't mind too much -- or even enjoy yourself. But it is disappointing to see a movie try to go for Upgrade levels of epic violent action, and then give up after only one sequence.

There's also a larger percentage of static conversations than should exist.

Vin Diesel is a good, safe bet to carry a flick like this, and he does a fine job. For him, I think even going through the motions produces a perfectly acceptable result. You know he's been better, and that he can be better... but there's nothing wanting either. Guy Pearce phones in, but you don't really notice that either. And the rest (with one exception) are fine -- the sort of actors that need a good script to play well. And, well, they don't here. The lines that the British tech nerd character had to say were horrendous. Like an American wrote them, looking up jargon as they went. (Wait.)

The exception is Toby Kebbell. He never gets much to do when he pops up in movies like this, but darned if he doesn't give it his all anyway. And full disclosure: I'm a fan. I'm biased. But the only real moments this movie possessed were conveyed by him. But him being outstanding was only a comparative feat. Also, I did not understand what kind of accent he was going for at all.

The action was underwhelming on the whole. As I said, parts were interesting, but that was mainly due to effectively distracting focus on setting and visuals. Choreography had a moment or two but wasn't near what it should have been -- and was liberally augmented with slow-motion and, of course, the CGI. It's necessary for Ray's ability, and that didn't bother me, but it was still overused to create cheap action set pieces and often to replace stunts. And those things make it less impressive to watch.

This movie is called Bloodshot, but those are vodka.

This was a film made for theaters, yet it felt like nothing more than another passable, forgettable Straight-to-Netflix offering. Something for you to be placated by before grabbing a snack and starting the next thing on your queue. There's a demand for fun action flicks that don't require a ten-year investment for fans. I know that. But that doesn't mean filmmakers get a pass to throw all quality standards and effort out the window. If that's too much of me to ask... I don't care. I will continue to ask it. Bloodshot scrapes by and fulfills its purpose. And it's also a bad film.