Bloodshot (2020) Movie Review

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Vin Diesel wreaks bionic chaos in comic-book adaptation Bloodshot

There are no small parts for an actor like Vin Diesel. (Unless of course he’s playing a wee extraterrestrial tree.)

At 52, the actor is still too fast, too furious, and too essentially himself to be anything else onscreen other than the monosyllabic slab of manhood we know so well from more than two decades of Diesel-size franchise: that head like an aerodynamic bullet; the voice a slow-rolling boulder; biceps scaled to sequoias.

So what Bloodshot turns him into feels almost inevitable: He is finally, literally unkillable — a god of destruction only nominally contained by the laws of physics (and even less by those of screenwriting).

Based on the bionic hero of the early ’90s Valiant comic books, his Ray Garrison begins as an elite soldier who catches and kills as casually as if he’s ordering breakfast tacos; not with any special pleasure really, but with a sort of calm, resigned competence.

But when his lovely blond wife is murdered by a dancing sociopath in socks and shower sandals (character notes!), he dares the killer to take him too — and wakes up in a lab run by a doctor (Guy Pearce) whose mechanical arm is the first clue as to what kind of mad science happens here: Members of the military elite arrive in various states of severe damage and are more than healed; they’re rebuilt like human chop shops, then weaponized.

There’s a Marine diver who’s been altered to breathe through a bolt in her clavicle (Baby Driver’s Eiza González), and a paraplegic SEAL (Sam Heughan) with new legs molded out of blades of stainless steel. And now Ray, the lab’s most fully realized triumph of nanotechnology so far. They’re all conspicuously sexy and deadly in a way that seems like an easy setup for some kind of enhanced homicide squad, though that’s not exactly what the story has in mind.

An early twist helps mitigate and explain some of the silliness that came before — as do a few punch-drunk touches of comic relief, many of them from New Girl’s Lamorne Morris as a Cockney hacker with a predilection for takeout noodles and sad sweatpants. One high-altitude set piece provides a solid dose of visual dazzle, as do a few of the movie’s many, many ways to die. (If you’d prefer to wait to know more — or anything but the entire plot at all — avoid the trailer.)

Mostly, though, it’s a lot of bog-standard action stuff glommed onto a deeper metaphysical muddle; Inception drawn in extra-thick Sharpie and testosterone. If the whole thing is ultimately a shell for Diesel to do what he does, the ending also takes care to sing in the key of sequel too: Come fast cars, Avatars, and farther galaxies, there will be blood, again.