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"BLOODSHOT"
(2020) (Vin Diesel, Eiza González) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Sci-Fi/Action: Having been resurrected by a scientific team after he and his wife are murdered, a nano-technologically enhanced super soldier seeks out revenge on those responsible.
PLOT:

Ray Garrison (VIN DIESEL) is an elite member of the U.S. Armed Forces who's called upon to handle dangerous situations and he always gets the job done, although his wife, Gina (TALULAH RILEY), wonders how long his body can take the related abuse. Unfortunately for both, they end up abducted and murdered by a madman, with Ray then waking up in a scientific lab run by Dr. Emil Harting (GUY PEARCE).

Equipped with a bionic arm, Harting is working on a project to create seemingly indestructible super soldiers and has resurrected Ray as his proof of concept prototype. Ray, who suffers from amnesia, is startled by this news, but see that other soldiers have also benefited from Harting's work that's run by his nerdy tech guy, Eric (SIDDHARTH DHANANJAY).

Among those past wounded soldiers is KT (EIZA GONZALEZ), who now breaths through a high-tech piece of technology in her throat; Tibbs (ALEX HERNANDEZ) who was blinded in combat but now has enhanced vision from his implants; and Jimmy Dalton (SAM HEUGHAN), who lost his legs but can now run at super speeds due to his robotic replacements. KT works directly as Harting's assistant, while the other two are his henchmen who are tasked with tracking down Ray now that memories of those past murders have been triggered and he's escaped with revenge on his mind.

But once Ray is done, we then see that not all is as it initially appeared, with KT becoming increasingly concerned by Harting's motives, Dalton actively not liking Ray, and another inventor's tech guy, Wilfred Wigans (LAMORNE MORRIS), soon getting caught up in the unfolding situation.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

As a kid growing up in the 1970s, I was a hardcore fan of "The Six Million Dollar Man" (not to mention its spin-off series, "The Bionic Woman") and the ultra-cool opening for each episode that stated: "Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better...stronger...faster."

But two things about the show still bug me to this day. For starters, and due to the lack of special effects technology for a TV show at that time, his amazing powers were always shown in slow-motion (accompanied by some sort of synthesizer-like sound effects), thus negating -- at least visually -- their wow factor. And then there was the matter of physics where other parts of his body wouldn't be able to withstand the dynamic pressure created by his speed, tall jumps and landings and such, meaning he probably also needed a bionic spine, hips and so forth to deal with the forces at play.

That latter issue came to mind while watching "Bloodshot," the latest lesser-known comic book character and story to be adapted for the big screen. In it, one character (played by Sam Heughan) likewise has "bionic" type legs, and while today's special effects more convincingly show him zipping around in one chase scene in particular, there's still the issue of the rest of his otherwise human body having to deal with those forces. But his physics issues didn't bother me as much as they did for the main character (embodied by Vin Diesel) who's had nanotechnology pumped into his blood (and thus every cell of his body).

While I could buy into an early demonstration by the head inventor (Guy Pearce) cutting into Ray's palm to show the instant healing abilities, I had issues with more severe wounds and damage where skin, muscle, and other parts are blown from his body but somehow, defying gravity and most believability, manage to fly back together in a matter of seconds. Even a huge explosion late in the film is no match for the tech that's seemingly been borrowed from Robert Patrick's T-1000 terminator and his liquid metal design.

Speaking of borrowed, the other issue is that pretty much everything about the flick feels guilty of similar lifting. Even throwing out the better, stronger, faster Steve Austin bit, our hero is resurrected after being shot dead, sort of like Peter Weller's cop character who's likewise shot dead and brought back to life significantly upgraded in "Robocop." Not only that, but his memory can also be altered, sort of like in "Total Recall" and reality isn't what it would seem, making one think of "The Matrix" (although nowhere as imaginatively creative as that film).

It doesn't help that Diesel, while decent enough in the action scenes (like so many of his other genre flicks), simply doesn't believably impart the emotional drama of what he's been through (seeing his wife -- played by Talulah Riley -- murdered right before he is) and then wanting to get revenge on those who wronged him.

Director David S. F. Wilson and writers Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer do throw a twist into that material that's somewhat interesting, but the need to show off the action ends up superseding and drowning the headier and more intriguing sci-fi aspects of that switcheroo. And it ends up getting ludicrous when the aforementioned leg man ends up donning a high-tech suit that makes him look and behave like Doc Ock's cousin battling Spider-Man.

The mad scientist's assistant -- played by Eiza González -- ends up as the most interesting character, even if she's made to inexplicably dress at times like an early Megan Fox sexpot type character at the lab. Lamorne Morris and Siddharth Dhananjay are present as comic relief of sorts playing nerdy tech guys, but don't end up terribly memorable.

Which also holds true for the overall movie that feels like an offering from a bygone era (meaning the 1980s and '90s) when films of this sort were all the rage. In fact, the only thing you might end up remembering is wondering about the body physics involved, even in a flick where suspension of disbelief should be a given. Okay at times but subpar overall, "Bloodshot" rates as a 4 out of 10.




Reviewed March 10, 2020 / Posted March 13, 2020


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