BLOODSHOT: A Laughably Bad Comic Book Film

It’s a weird age for comic book movies. After the overwhelmingly massive success of 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, the genre has undergone a large “cool-down” period of sorts. There hasn’t been a new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie for almost a year now, which has left competitors the opportunity to release films that would generally get pushed under the radar alongside a slate of MCU outings. This worked well enough for Joker (which went on to be nominated for eleven Academy Awards) and Birds of Prey, which was hailed as a fun, fresh and unique entry in the genre. Coming off the heels of those two, now we have Bloodshot, starring Vin Diesel as the titular antihero.

Bloodshot follows an ex-marine who, after returning home, is murdered, but is rebuilt with nanotechnology, vowing to exact revenge on the people who killed him and his wife. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. Bloodshot borrows every imaginable cliché and trope from the 2000s action films it’s obviously inspired by, but it forgets to add additional layers of emotion and heart to its central character. I don’t read comics so I can’t say for sure whether this is a decent adaptation of the source material or not, but I can judge it based on what it presents as a movie, which in this case is an absolute dumpster fire.

A Convoluted Mess

Considering that this is apparently the first in a new Valiant Comics series of films, it’s utterly baffling that the screenwriters chose to make the first entry so incredibly messy. The script is insultingly terrible at conveying its story properly, managing to somehow be both unnecessarily convoluted and overly generic at the same time. The plot is so bland and half-baked that it seems Jeff Wadlow (the mastermind behind cinematic masterpieces such as Truth or Dare and Fantasy Island) had an idea one day to kick off the 2020s with the most unoriginal comic book film since Green Lantern.

BLOODSHOT: A Laughably Bad Comic Book Film
source: Columbia Pictures

Scenes are stitched together so clumsily and without any sense of cohesion that it’s shocking this Frankenstein monster of a movie even got past the test screening phase. It’s conceptually and laughably bad, yet even those potential chuckles at the abysmal script are ruined because the film is so goddamn boring. In addition, the cinematography is painful to look at, an amalgamation of every digitally-shot superhero film from the past decade, thinking “style” means lens flares and deep colors without any sense of visual composition whatsoever.

Not only does it steal plot beats from countless action movies before it, but it acts so sure of itself while doing so. Yet, every potential twist in the story is haphazardly configured to appeal to the lowest common denominator of audience, made worse by the fact that the filmmakers were so desperate for people to see this movie that they put spoiler after spoiler in the trailer, and, furthermore, proceeded to make sure the trailer played before every movie over the last few months.

Poor Acting and Characterization

Not only are the film’s technical qualities uninspired, but the acting is unsurprisingly flat from pretty much every cast member. Vin Diesel is typical Vin Diesel, talking in his typical gruff voice, and Guy Pierce is predictably sinister. Sam Heughan is mind-numbingly stale, and Lamorne Morris gives a painfully awful British accent. Eiza González is really the only cast member with any sense of personality, small as it may be. Also, whoever thought Toby Kebbell cringe-inducingly dancing to “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads should be prohibited from offering any insight on a movie ever again.

BLOODSHOT: A Laughably Bad Comic Book Film
source: Columbia Pictures

Coupled with the cast’s atrocious acting chops, their characterization is also less than stellar. Every single character in this abomination of a film is there to carry the plot forward, and nothing more. Motivations for antagonists are often unclear, and side characters pop in and out of the plot whenever they want; disposable, soulless individuals with no sense of consistent tie to the narrative. Nothing is ever really revealed as to why the characters are what they are, but the film still expects viewers to care.

Stakes are low until the very, very end when Bloodshot becomes susceptible to damage all of a sudden because the plot demands it. It’s a cheap, unearned moment that’s so rushed, especially after a big CGI-heavy (awful CGI, may I add) fight through a building where Diesel can take as many hits as he wants because he’s invincible.

BLOODSHOT: A Laughably Bad Comic Book Film
source: Columbia Pictures

Probably the most baffling choice was the script’s decision to exclude civilians in the plot. Pretty much every comic book film includes some type of threat to a large city, and even though Bloodshot is more of a smaller-scale film in that regard, it’s still disappointing to see a story that’s so…dead. The entire film is void of any life, save for a motorcycle chase sequence where a few civilians are seen. It’s just such a dull endeavor that robs the viewer of any enjoyability whatsoever.

Bloodshot: Conclusion

While Bloodshot isn’t the worst film I’ve seen in 2020, it’s still an abysmal attempt at leeching off of the MCU’s brief hiatus, attempting to start a new franchise out of a character so unknown to many general audiences but without the necessary tools to construct one. Back in 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy worked so well because even though the characters were relatively under the radar for mainstream moviegoers, the script poured so much vivid emotion into them while still retaining the action-packed feel that people want out of a comic book film. Bloodshot attempts to do something “different”, but retains so many of the clichés its predecessors have befallen to.

Yet, instead of trying to fix them, it actually acknowledges them and tries to write them off as purposeful (no, I’m not kidding). In a scene where Bloodshot’s fake memories are being constructed, a coder asks to add input and the movie’s villain responds with “You’ve already ripped off every movie cliché there is.” It was at this moment in the film that my eyes rolled further back into my head than ever before. Bloodshot is inexcusable corporate garbage that masks its hollow narrative as fresh and original when it’s actually one of the most loosely-composed, generic trash fires of the year. It’s an incoherent mess that has no idea what to do with itself aside from aping the already done-to-death style of 2000s action films. Absolutely one of the biggest misfires in a long time.

What’s your favorite Vin Diesel performance? If you’ve seen Bloodshot, what did you think of it? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

Bloodshot was released on March 13, 2020.

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