There has been a debate as of late surrounding superhero films and their place in the grand tapestry of cinema. What worth do they have to the medium? Is their cultural dominance a sign of uncreative executives or simply just the result of audience demand? Are they even “cinema” at all? I may not be equipped to start breaking down these hefty questions, but one thing I am sure of is that Bloodshot will not do the genre any favors.
Based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name, Bloodshot stars Vin Diesel as Ray Garrison- a soldier who is killed and resurrected by a company who gifts him superhuman powers. He wants to use them for good, but they, wait for it, do not. Cliched, but certainly intriguing, especially with an early twist that catches your interest. I found myself getting drawn into the story a few times, only to get pulled right back out by some of the worst blockbuster filmmaking I have seen in a long time.
Now, one does not necessarily sit down to see Bloodshot expecting subversive cinema. However, the film is so painfully rote and packed with eye-rolling genre conventions. The film itself even points it out several times, thinking that winking at the audience for its terribleness makes it any less terrible. I half expected Diesel to turn and full-on Deadpool to the audience, which the film damn near does with Lamorne Morris’ Wilfred Wigans- who is an early contender for one of the year’s worst characters.
Morris tries his damndest, but there is just no saving a script that is this top-to-bottom embarrassing. Going back to Diesel, I am hard-pressed to even try and figure out if he is bad because he is simply just doing his usual shtick. This typically works like gangbusters for me, but that is because films like the Fast Saga more so suit his gruff melodramatization, whereas here it all just feels so awkward and lacking in true self-awareness. Again though, kind of par for the course with a film like this- we go for the action, right?
A grey superpowered Diesel fighting bad guys in neon lighting is more than enough to get me in a theater. Alas, it seems as though the filmmakers put marginally more effort into the action than they did into the script. The sort of quickly-cut minimally choreographed action that I had hoped we were moving away from in recent years returns. Grey Diesel (or Bloodshot, but he is Grey Diesel to me) does some cool shit and there are badass ideas all over the place. Unfortunately, we cannot see any of it with how hilariously overcut and poorly framed it all is. Bloodshot seems to mistake fast-pacing and disorientation for just complete, all-around incoherence. This is hurt even further by Steve Jablonsky’s score that sounds pretty much like every other bland and underscored action film of the past 10 years, replacing action cues and leitmotifs with ugly and abrasive electronic dun dun dun sounds that sincerely began to give me a headache after a certain point.
For a film whose central message is that in order to be our best selves, we must move beyond who we once were- Bloodshot seems to have no desire to heed its own advice. Opting instead for every superhero and action film trope of the past and not innovating or adding anything to that aforementioned great tapestry of cinema. In a time where the comic book film genre is evolving and cases are being made for their value in pop culture beyond pure entertainment, films like Bloodshot do not need resurrecting.