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Featuring comics by
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Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
In the sub-category of Superheroes Made Not Born (SPIDER-MAN, THE HULK, THE GREEN LANTERN), there are the two sub-sub-categories of Superheroes intentionally made by the Supernatural (BLADE [Comic], SPAWN, HELL BOY) or Science (BLADE [Movie], CAPTAIN AMERICA, IRON MAN). It's in this SCIENCE sub-sub-category that 2020's first cinema Superhero takes a bow.
Welcome Comic book superhero BLOODSHOT, to the cinema!
Like nearly every Superhero there is, BLOODSHOT has a tragic past.
In no time for story quick time, Army Special Ops soldier, Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel: THE IRON GIANT, PITCH BLACK, BABYLON A.D., AVENGERS ENDGAME) saves a hostage, winds up back home and, while still bandaged and healing, makes love to his wife, Gina (Talulah Riley: INCEPTION, THOR: THE DARK WORLD, SUBMERGED, WESTWORLD [TV - 2016]) and goes on a vacation. Where he is promptly kidnapped, tortured by the sadistic Martin Axe (Toby Kebbel: WRATH OF THE TITANS, FANTASTIC FOUR , KONG: SKULL ISLAND, WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, DESTROYER), and his fiance murdered before his eyes.
This happens nearly as fast in the movie as it did in the movie trailer.
Ray is rescued by kindly scientist, Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce: RAVENOUS, MEMENTO, HURT LOCKER, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, IRON MAN 3, PROMETHEUS, BRIMSTONE, ALIEN: COVENANT) who has made him better, faster, stronger. How much better? Well, the Army gave Dr. Harting Ray's corpse and now Ray is alive.
Ray doesn't remember dying. Then again, at first Ray doesn't remember anything about his past. He was shot in the head and the brain damage was extensive, which is as good a reason as any for amnesia.
Ray's new life and superhuman strength all comes at a price, of course. Dr. Harting wants to repair soldiers wounded in battle and we see this in some of his staff like KT (Eiza González: ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL) who wears a breathing apparatus on her chest.
Ex-Navy Seal Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan), who has artificial legs and hates Ray for reasons never explained. Jimmy is simply conflict boy.
Tibbs (Alex Hernandez: SAMUEL'S GAME, HEMLOCK GROVE [TV]) whose military cred isn't clear, is blind and sees through an apparatus on his chest.
They are early beta versions that worked up to the pinnacle in nanotechnology, Ray. So Dr. Harting needs Ray to test to failure his new self.
However, when he sleeps, fragments of Ray's memories return. The most prominent is his final moments when he was forced to watch his wife murdered before he too was executed. His wife's body was never found.
In a wildly improbable set of circumstances, Ray realizes who killed him and knows where to find him. Ray gets his revenge.
Except as soon as Ray is back at the lab and under the care of Dr. Harting, he is forced into sleep. At this point (that was also shown in the movie trailer) we discover that Ray is a slave. Kindly Dr. Harting has full access to Ray's mind and gives him new memories. This time Ray dreams of being in the exact set of circumstances, but is forced to see his wife murdered by a different man.
Full of vengeance and in yet another wildly improbable set of circumstances, Ray realizes who killed him and knows where to find him. Ray gets his revenge.
We now know that Ray is being controlled by Dr. Harting and nothing is as it seems. Ray's wife may never have been murdered. In fact, he may never have had a wife at all. Worse, Ray may be murdering innocent people that got in Dr. Harting's way.
The engine of the story is, how can Ray escape? Unlike Neo in THE MATRIX, there is no computer for Ray to escape from. His prison is within his own mind.
At 90 minutes (107 including credits) BLOODSHOT is virtually all action.
Directed by first timer, Dave Wilson (who must have some ridiculously cushy connections to be handed a sizeable budget movie like this [$45 million] on his first attempt at anything), there's a lot of missed opportunity.
Adapted by Jeff Wadlow (also a movie producer and director: CRY WOLF, PREY, KICK-ASS 2, FANTASY ISLAND ) and
Vin Diesel, who wildly impressed small audiences and critics with his acting, takes a sloppy turn here. While character development is no longer necessary for his prize franchise, Fast and Furious, that's only because that series is, as of this writing, 9 movies deep. F and F, along with his second tier prize, XXX, can go all action flick straight out of the gate and that's fine.
But there was not only a considerable amount of backstory to the comic book BLOODSHOT, it was a fascinating backstory.
Moreover, where a comic book could not delve as deeply all at one time into that backstory due to its limitations, the cinema could. Neo took the entire first movie to become the hero.
Steve Rogers took more than half of CAPTAIN AMERICA to become the hero.
Tony Stark spent more than half of the first IRON MAN inventing, developing, and refining his IRON MAN suit, and so on.
BLADE (like Jason in THE BOURNE IDENTITY), didn't need much backstory only because he knew so little of it. He was an orphan foundling, found by Whistler. That entire movie, like THE MATRIX and SPIDER-MAN, is about Blade's discovery of who he is.
In BLOODSHOT, however, Ray's past is crucial to everything he puts himself through and there's just nothing there. That discovery of self is all casually tossed out and tossed aside and its crunchy sound effects and green screen cgi animated action after that.
You'd expect that such a thin story requires a comic relief and you'd be right. Eric the computer guy (Siddharth Dhananjay: UNDONE [TV]) is Dr. Harting's much put upon top programming geek whose resume isn't as fleshed out as he pretends.
Speaking of fleshed out, BLOODSHOT is so thin a tale that they went for two comic reliefs. Enter Wilfred Wigans the superior computer geek (Lamorne Morris: NIGHTMARE TIME) whose Fu beats Eric.
What could have been a deeply fascinating movie on par with THE MATRIX became a mere veneer shoot-em-up that can never support the kind of Superhero franchise that Sony Pictures is repeatedly attempting and repeatedly failing to ignite.
Whatever connections Director Dave has, those folks didn't do him any favors by dropping this boulder on him on his first time out of the gate. At least Sony studios can blame the poor first weekend returns on the media fueled COVID-19 hysteria currently underway.
To quote actor Robert Englund (who was referring to a different movie he made long before), BLOODSHOT is disposable fun.
Three barely earned Shriek Girls.