Vin Diesel is Bloodshot.


Dept. of Unobtanium Research and Development


We’re at the end of act one and about to see the first real action set piece with Vin Diesel as Bloodshot. Recently reanimated and transfused with billions of tiny little nanites, self-replicating, bio-engineered organisms that render him all but invulnerable, he’s on the hunt for the man who killed his wife. Everything takes place in a tunnel when a convoy of vehicles is brought to a grinding halt by a runaway tanker carrying flour. Not petrol, or diesel, or juice, or milk. But flour.

Suddenly, everything is covered in white. Flour particles hang in the air creating a temporary haze. There’s a phosphorescent glow from red flares. And everything kicks off. The kicking and punching. The shooting and screaming. Bloodshot slowly making his way through henchman and lackey until he finally finds his target.

It is a scene designed with a very specific purpose. To give us a glimpse of Bloodshot as he is in the comics, with his signature white skin. It is a strong visual choice. It is a clever attempt at trying to create a mood, though not one that was properly thought out.

Flour, you see, when hanging in the air as dust, is incredibly combustible. Their grains are so tiny that they burn instantly, with one grain lighting others near it, causing a flame front to flash through a dust cloud with explosive force. (See: The Equalizer 2.) Given the state of that tunnel – with wrecked SUVs leaking fuel, with fires burning, and the air infused with teeny tiny flour particles – a single spark is all that’s necessary to set off a massive explosion and kill everyone.

Vin Diesel running through flour as Bloodshot.

It was at that point, just as I was about to check out, when something happens, and everything suddenly clicks. The story takes a turn, from self-important to self-aware, when the writers let you in on the joke, and you realise that all the things you initially dismissed, that made this movie feel like yet another action movie cliché, actually has a purpose. It’s like one of those paint-by-numbers kits. You know, the ones that look nothing like the Eiffel Tower until the very end, until you take a step back and see it as a whole.

If you are, in any way, familiar with the Valiant comic books, then what happens next won’t be all that surprising. This is, after all, an origin story. I won’t spoil it, except to say that nothing is as it seems. Not for Bloodshot. And not for us. The movie does well to not concern itself with the whys and hows of things. After a quick jargon-filled set-up involving nanites and biotech, the movie focusses instead on a series of plot twists and character reveals that drive the story toward its inevitable, sequel-establishing, end.

Guy Pearce is Dr. Emil Harting in Bloodshot.

Vin Diesel knows his strengths and has pretty much typecast himself. Along with Dwayne Johnson – and maybe Jason Statham – Diesel is one of three actors left in Hollywood to model themselves after the last action heroes of the 1980s and 1990s. As Bloodshot, Diesel doubles down on his only four expressions: pain, anger, confusion, and an oddly constipated look that passes for affection. Which works, given the character he’s playing is, in essence, a programmable killing machine. He does, however, manage to give us a little more pathos than we usually get.

Bloodshot has always been a fascinating character. Much more anti-hero than superhero; think Punisher meets Frankenstein, with a little Wolverine thrown in. Being practically indestructible, he poses quite the challenge for writers looking to keep him interesting. There’s very little room for conflict and drama when you’re working with a character with no past and can’t be destroyed. Here, writers Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2) and Eric Heisserer (Arrival, yes, that Arrival) manage to mine the source material and come up with a story with real stakes – not physical but existential. Bloodshot cannot die, but who or what is he living for?

Eiza Gonzalez is KT in Bloodshot.

Bloodshot isn’t as much a superhero movie (as we’ve come to understand them) as it is a comic book movie. One that embraces its high concept, doesn’t get bogged down in detail, and takes you on an entertaining and, at times, surprising ride.

Valiant, a tier two comic book publisher, has been trying for years to get their properties onto the big screen. Bloodshot is the first instalment in what they hope will be a cinematic universe of their own; with Vin Diesel being their Robert Downey Jr. And they may be on to something. Made for just $42 million, this could signal the beginning of a mid-budget cinematic universe, made on the cheap with a focus on interesting characters, competent action, and a driving plot.

Keep it cheesy. Keep it fun. And count me all in.

109 minutes
Director: David S. F. Wilson
Writers: Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer
Cast: Vin Diesel, Eiza González, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce, Lamorne Morris, Talulah Riley, Alex Hernandez, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, and Tamer Burjaq

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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