"Bloodshot"; Cast: Vin Diesel, EizaGonzalez, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce, Talulah Riley, Lamorne Morris, Johannes Haukur Johannesson, Siddharth Dhananjay; Direction: David SF Wilson; Rating: ** and 1/2 (two and a half stars)
First-time director David SF Wilson's "Bloodshot" is an origin story of the eponymous superhero, a popular Valiant Comics Character, and revenge propels its plot. Set in an unnamed metropolis of darkly gleaming skyscrapers, the film is surely fun to watch, but it never feels grounded in reality. You never feel like there is anything at stake either, because we are given to understand that our hero is invincible. He does not get damaged by virtually anything, so it makes the action sequences that play out feel like a breeze to watch.
Jumping straight into the action, the story pivots around the tough-as-nails US Marine Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel). After he and his wife are murdered, Garrison is resurrected by a team of scientists working for an organisation called RST, which is spearheaded by Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce).
At RST, wounded American soldiers are treated to become "improved, enhanced warriors".
Apparently, in this successful project, Ray's blood is replaced with nano-techbots known as nanites. Enhanced with nanotechnology, he becomes a superhuman, indestructible killing machine.
As Ray first trains with fellow super-soldiers, he cannot recall anything from his former life. But when his memories flood back and he remembers the man that killed both him and his wife, he breaks out of the facility to get revenge, only to discover that there's more to the conspiracy than he thought.
For a while, the film toys with not just interesting concepts, but with a sort of meta-playfulness that allows it to poke gentle fun at its own genre before settling tediously back into those tired tropes. The first 30 minutes of the narrative are quite a stretch.
It is a long, drawn-out setup for the second act. Once the second act kicks into gear, the narrative vibrates with its convoluted, but entertaining flashes. And the final confrontation in the climax gives you a feeling of deja vu.
On the performance front, Vin Diesel has his own style, whether he is playing Riddick, Dom Toretto or now Ray Garrison aka Bloodshot. With an imposing physical presence and a voice that either rumbles or roars, his range rarely goes too far.
But here, despite the moments of vulnerability and uncertainty, which are a bit off the usual path for Vin, he is implacable as ever.
Guy Pearce, as the manipulative and egomaniacal Dr. Emily Harting, is himself in just another robotics hybrid with glasses and a God complex. In fact he is quite unimpressive when he mouths, "I can rebuild all this and you cannot survive without me".
ElizaGonzalez, Sam Heughan and Alex Hernandez as RST's other enhanced wounded warriors, alongwith Lamorne Morris and Siddharth Dhananjay as the IT nerds Wilfred Wigans and Eric, do their best with thinly-sketched characters who seem to be derivatives of characters seen in other films earlier.
There are moments when Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer's screenplay appear like an ordinary book adaptation. It borrows chunks from other existing cinematic universes -- namely "Terminator", "RoboCop", "Iron Man" -- to create a universe of its own.
The script definitely reeks of poor writing especially when there are unintentionally awkward and exemplifying moments intended to inject humour or life lessons.
The film falls notches down because of director of photography Jacques Jouffret's poor cinematography. With unsteady frames and poor lighting, especially in close-ups and mid-shots, the film is visually disconcerting and off-putting.