Where to begin with BLOODSHOT, a derivative lump of lethargy that taints the thrill of the plot twist, and renders an action sequence in plummeting elevators dully predictable? Right down to the quips. Powered solely by Vin Diesel’s star power, it is overwritten and under cogitated, with special effects that aren’t. Diesel is still a star, but his magnitude has taken a hit. Perhaps the Valiant comic by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin, and Bob Layton has, too.
Diesel is Ray, an elite soldier with a keen sense of duty, and a sensitive side reserved for his lovely wife, Gina (Talulah Riley). She may be dressed like a hoochie in her scant white lace dress when we first see her, but she’s good people, which means that when she is killed by a whiny villain (Toby Kebbell), Ray, being full of duty and sensitivity, has no choice but to hunt said villain down and make him pay. Unfortunately, Ray’s dead, too, and while that would stop most people, Ray has the unsolicited help of excitable uber-nerd Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) to bring him back to life with nano-technology. And not just any nano-technology. No, this let Ray instantly heal from any wound, and gives him super strength.
Harting is, of course, working on a scientifically cutting-edge project to create a super soldier for the government. Further of course, he’s gotten a little too wrapped up in the end-product to let a little thing like ethics get in the way. Oh, and there is KT (Eiza González), a toothsome fellow elite soldier with nano-tech lungs (clavical-mounted enthuses Harting), who beguiles Ray with her underwater aerobics (don’t ask). For fun, and the colossal cliché of it all, there’s also the fellow nano-enhanced Dalton (Sam Heughan), who despises Ray for no tangible reason other than the plot demands an antagonist.
The story ticks along, hitting all its expected marks with nary a whiff of innovation, as Ray suffers and creates carnage at every turn. Most notably engaging in a bloodbath on pavement covered in several tons of flour. Why? Because it looks pretty when the red filter is used as the nanotech thingys reconstruct a wounded Ray? Maybe. Nothing really makes sense here, from a security detail that has obviously failed to read its mission statement, to why a secure facility doesn’t have electronic security protecting its computers. Trust me, any corporation with more than two employees has something in place.
The narrative is reduced to a series of set-pieces designed to do little more than prolong the running time while lobbing would-be humor at the audience courtesy of the coding geeks (Lamorne Morris and Siddharth Dhananjay), who, in all fairness, help us all get through the ordeal of watching this flick. Morris, in particular, lights up the screen with his sheer exuberance and keen sense of playful irony.
Diesel, well, he’s Diesel. Intense and relentless, half-smiling with the discovery that he can now shatter a cement column with just a few punches, or coolly delivering payback for the umpteenth time. He does tough but sensitive with a primal authenticity, and that is nothing at which to sneer.
BLOODSHOT, however, is eminently sneer worthy. Fraught with overwhelming pedantry, underwhelming pretentiousness, stale dialogue, and stock characters, it is in prime position for a thorough, and well-earned drubbing at the 2021 Razzie Awards.