Thinking of Vin Diesel’s career as a movie star is interesting. When we think of Vin Diesel, the first thing that pops into most people’s minds is the Fast and Furious franchise, where Diesel plays the leader of a group of car-racing thieves Dominic Toretto. But beyond the Fast and Furious, what else is Vin Diesel? He’s had other franchises, the Riddick franchise and the xXx franchise, both of which are moderate successes. He’s done some voice work in really good movies like The Iron Giant and Guardians of the Galaxy, both roles which required more of a vocal tone rather than vocal talent. He’s also tried to be a character a few times in films like Boiler Room, Find Me Guilty, and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, as well as star in some random films here and there like The Pacifier and The Last Witch Hunter. But nothing has seemed to stick for Diesel as a bankable leading man except the Fast and Furious films.
Bloodshot is Diesel’s latest attempt at a sci-fi action film that wants to be a franchise. Based on a series of comic books from the 90’s about a medically enhanced super soldier, the film is further proof that Vin Diesel’s worth as a movie star only exists in the Fast and Furious.
Diesel plays Ray Garrison, an elite soldier who was killed in battle and is brought back to life by an advanced technology invented by Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) that gives him the ability of super human strength and fast healing. With his new abilities, he goes after the man who killed his wife, or who he believes killed his wife. He soon comes to learn that not everything he learns can be trusted.
This is director Dave Wilson’s debut film after working as a visual effects artists for years and like most visual effects artists who transition into directing, you can tell that this movie was made by someone who understands style and not substance. Wilson has a lot of fun with the action sequences, using a lot of fast-to-slow-to-fast again effects during the fights to show Garrison’s new powers and how his body regenerates itself. It’s cool to look at, but all the action in this movie is lifeless. No scene was ever exciting and there was nothing new in any of them. Also, a film like this, a dumb, hyper-violent sci-fi action film, needs be rated R and not given the PG-13 treatment. The violence would have been gratuitous, but it would have made the action sequences at least a little fun.
What makes these lackluster scenes of action even worse is that there is nothing else of interest in this movie. The plot, story, and characters are all bland and unoriginal. There are things in this movie that reminded of The Matrix, things that reminded me of Total Recall, things that reminded me of The Edge of Tomorrow, and things that reminded me of the Riddick franchise, all of which are far better movies than this one. It felt like someone watched all of those movies and wrote the worst combination of them. It’s an utter slog to get through and luckily for us, the film is under two hours.
Diesel’s performance is a lot like every other character he plays: he kicks a lot of ass and most of his dialog is brief, mumbled lines. There isn’t anything new here, yet his schtick doesn’t work here as well as it does in the Fast and Furious movies, in which this kind of performance fits perfectly in the world of fast cars and heists. The rest of the cast around him doesn’t help. Eiza Gonzalez, who was very charming in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, gives a painfully bad performance. Her character is horribly written, but I haven’t seen stilted acting like this in a long time. Lamorne Morris attempts some one-liners but they all miss and I don’t understand why his character had to be British, but the accent is rough. And will someone in Hollywood please give Guy Pearce a good role? Such a good actor deserves better than this nonsense.
The major crux of Bloodshot is how Dr. Harting knows that Garrison is only good at killing and will use that to his advantage even if Garrison thinks that he is more than that, which is a lot like Diesel as a movie star. Diesel thinks that he is more than the Fast and Furious franchise, yet Bloodshot, along with the slew of other films I named above, prove otherwise. I’m sure Diesel will do other films besides the Fast and Furious movies, but his only worth as a movie star is in a car as Dominic Toretto and by uttering, “I am Groot.”
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