Remember the pre-MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) era during the 1990s and 2000s where most comic-book movies suffered a huge dip in quality? (e.g. 1997’s Batman & Robin and Spawn as well as 2005’s Elektra). Bloodshot happens to be one of them — a dead on arrival of the first movie in a proposed shared cinematic universe based on Valiant Comics. It’s a pity, considering the huge popularity of the comic itself in terms of sales and numerous accolades.
Even the plot itself — credited to Jeff Wadlow (yes, the same guy who wrote and directed the horrendous Fantasy Island) and Eric Heisserer — is a mishmash of ideas borrowed from the likes of RoboCop, The Terminator and Edge of Tomorrow, with the latter has a Groundhog Day-like story device involving a dead U.S. marine (Vin Diesel’s Ray Garrison) brought back to life through a scientific experiment supervised by Dr Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) and turned him into a nanobot-enhanced super-soldier. Soon, Garrison experienced a series of déjà vu related to his own death that killed him and his wife (Talulah Riley’s Gina) in the first place.
So, what went wrong with Bloodshot? Let’s start with the hopelessly miscast Vin Diesel as the titular comic character, whose performance is as wooden as a piece of plank. It doesn’t help either when his vigilante character is underwritten while severely lacking the emotional weight to feel sympathy for the loss of his murdered wife. Speaking of the wife, it is unfortunate that Talulah Riley is only given a thankless role that served mainly as a mere placeholder in the movie. The rest of the cast isn’t any better as well, with Guy Pearce and Toby Kebbell both forgettable as Dr Emil Harting and Martin Axe, the person responsible for Garrison and his wife’s deaths. Eiza González, who plays one of the enhanced super-soldiers named KT, is nothing more than appearing as eye candy.
Originally to be helmed by John Wick co-filmmakers Chad Stahelski and David Leitch but chose to pass on the project, former visual effects supervisor-turned-director Dave Wilson failed to do enough to generate any worthwhile entertainment. His direction is as pedestrian as it goes, with the 109-minute length feels like a chore to sit through. I understand that Bloodshot is only given a modest budget of US$42 million but that doesn’t mean the special effects have to appear as dated as if they were made in the bygone era.
Then, there’s the action — frustratingly incomprehensible with Jim May’s choppy editing and Dave Wilson’s ill-advised creative decision of shooting them with shaky-cam aesthetics. Given his prior experience in handling visuals for the movie (2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron) and video games (e.g. Halo Wars, Mass Effect 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic – Knights of the Eternal Throne), just about every technical aspect in Bloodshot looks shockingly amateurish. Not even the so-called various location settings that take place in some parts of the world — among them happens to be Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — look as if they were shot like a cheap, bargain-basement feature made for the direct-to-DVD or VOD markets.
So much for Bloodshot being positioned as a potential franchise-starter that could have put Valiant Comics in the Hollywood map similar to Marvel and DC. It makes me wonder if Chad Stahelski and David Leitch agreed to stay on for the project instead, the result could have been better than Dave Wilson’s ineffective directorial effort.