Bloodshot (2020)

Bloodshot - official film poster.jpeg
Director: Dave Wilson
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Certification: 12
Starring: Vin Diesel, Eiza González, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce, Lamorne Morris, Talulah Riley, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Alex Hernandez, Siddharth Dhananjay, Tamer Burjaq

Since the company was founded in 1989, Valiant Comics has been a notable voice in publishing comics, best known to the wider public for video game adaptations, such as Shadow Man and Turok. While they've been overshadowed by other interconnected universes, such as Marvel and DC, Valiant has not been one to count out, and has gone from strength to strength since their 2012 relaunch.

This has naturally lead to Valiant venturing into feature films, with this first adaptation intending to kickstart their own cinematic universe. The story follows U.S. Marine Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel), who is killed with his wife, before awakening in a secretive tech company. He has been resurrected with a special nanite technology, intent on being used as a weapon, but he's driven on a quest for vengeance.

What kicks off the film is the standard plot for a revenge film, complete with the expected tropes. Toby Kebbell entertains with his scenery chewing portrayal, complete with a dance to "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads, before he fridges the disposable wife role, in order for our lead to actually feel something. It's understandable if that synopsis made you roll your eyes, but that's only the beginning of it all. What then unfolds is intent on subverting the usual conventions of a revenge flick, and the screenplay by Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer is full of wonderful ideas to play on the tropes we previously witnessed. Unfortunately, a good idea can only go so far, and it's a shame they end up delivered in a manner that feels so flat.

Having served as the creative director at Blur Studios, and directed many trailers for video games, Dave Wilson makes the jump to directing feature films. His past work serves him well, as we're treated to striking visuals, often lit with an eye-popping tinge of red. Less effective is the distracting ADR work, as dialogue regularly becomes superimposed over scenes, and is left feeling out of place.

When so many characters have such fantastical abilities, it makes sense that extensive CG work is needed to realise them on-screen, and the ways it interacts with the flesh and blood characters. Sadly, the end result becomes glaring to look at, and that criticism extends to the characters also. What is realised ends up looking cartoonish, with the actions scenes we witness resembling a cutscene from a Playstation 3 game. It doesn't help when the slow-motion is used with such regularity, making the blemishes all the easier to see.

On paper, Vin Diesel is a solid choice for the lead role. With the amount of franchises he's fronted, including the box office success of the Fast & Furious series, he seems to be the perfect selection to lead this shared universe Valiant Comics intends to bring alive. What's unfortunate is how out of place he ends up feeling, as his self-serious performance feels lacking in charisma. The actor can deliver good work, especially in voice acting roles, but he never feels like he's inhabiting this role the way he has done with Groot, through the characters many ages. Little feels distinctive about the role, to the point it could be retooled as a Xander Cage vehicle.

In what's unfortunately a recurrent theme, Eiza González puts an excellent portrayal into a role that's yearning for more. She's characterised by her injury and how she feels for the lead, but there's little else which isn't relating to these aspects. Guy Pearce doesn't fare much better, for his role is a sad reminder of how underused he can be in big budget films. Lamorne Morris deserves a special mention, as he's the bright spark among the cast, even managing to pull off a passable British accent. He's having a ball with his role, depicting a gleefulness one wishes the film would also exude.

Bloodshot is available to rent on VOD.