18 Mar 2020

Movie review - Bloodshot

From At The Movies, 7:32 pm on 18 March 2020

If there’s anything the past decade or so has shown us, it’s the precise limits of the seemingly all-conquering comic-book movie.

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Photo: Supplied

If it’s done right, of course, it can be the biggest thing on the planet. Look at Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight/Batman movies, or the Marvel Comics Universe. But it has to be done right.

The movie landscape is littered with the whited bones of failed comic-book projects. The fact is, comic-book fans may be passionate and obsessive, but they’re not as numerous as events like Comic Con would have you believe. What’s needed for a hit movie based on a comic-book is…  well, everyone else.

Which brings me to a film called Bloodshot – I have to admit I’d never heard of it – the jewel in the crown of Valiant Comics – I’d never heard of them either.

But Valiant’s Bloodshot is a big deal in the comic-book world – the tale of a super-soldier constantly being brought back from the dead by a nefarious scientist.

Now this is clearly catnip to the mostly adolescent male fans of comic-books like Bloodshot.  It’s violent, it’s ridiculously complicated, while still emotionally shallow and it involves a lead character called Ray something, who looks positively undressed without a gun in his hand.

He’s played by the Furious half of the Fast and Furious franchise, Vin Diesel.

Well perhaps not so much furious as glum and monosyllabic. Anyway, at the start of Bloodshot we see soldier of fortune Ray chasing after the ratbags who kidnapped his wife. It all goes wrong, his wife is killed, and then so is Ray.   Wait, what?

But Ray is revived, and furious. He takes off to kill the louse who shot his spouse.

But things aren’t as simple as they appear. Well, not simple exactly, but pretty dumb.

Ray takes off after the bad guy, then finds his reality folding in on him. Photograph this moment, by the way. It was about here I rather lost my grip on the plot.

The clearly villainous mastermind behind all this hi-tech hocus-pocus is played by Guy Pearce who can - and occasionally does – do this sort of character in his sleep.

Pearce shuts down Ray, and then starts him up again. Rather like what you do with a malfunctioning computer.

So now Ray is set up to repeat the same original backstory – you know, wife kidnapped, bad guy, everyone gets shot.  But this time there’s a different bad guy that the revived Ray – code-name Bloodshot – is pointed at.

And there’s every indication that this sequence will go on ad infinitum.

It’s possible that you may have experienced something like this before.  No, not exactly déjà vu, just movies that use a remarkably similar plot.

There was Edge of Tomorrow, for instance – nicknamed “Groundhog D Day”.  There was Source Code and the Arnie movie Total Recall.

For me, the memory was rather fresher. The poster for Bloodshot looked almost identical to the one for last week’s Kiwi thriller Guns Akimbo.

But Guns had the saving grace of being funny. Vin Diesel doesn’t do funny, though in Bloodshot he occasionally steps aside to make room for the comic relief - an allegedly English computer nerd called Wilfred Wigans.

I know, only an American film would think ‘Wilfred Wigans’ sounds like an English name.   

Anyway, the film finally lumbers to some sort of conclusion.  As I say, I’d long lost my grip on most of the threads of the story – possibly nodding off at times. 

You may think nodding off during something as noisy and garish as Bloodshot would be a difficult task. Turns out it’s surprisingly easy. Endless repetition will do that to you.

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