Reel Talk

Bloodshot and Comic Book Shame

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Well folks, we’re really starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Every day it’s announced that more films are getting pushed back, not that it really matters since all movie theaters are closed until further notice. I’m not going to lie, as someone who typically finds themselves in a movie theater just about every single weekend, it’s been hard to go cold turkey, and to lose out on so many new releases to talk about. A few things are trickling into VOD, but it generally seems like 2020 is going to be kind of a mulligan when it comes to movies. We’re probably rapidly approaching the point where I’ll just stop finding current movies to talk about on here, other than what few streaming originals get posted, because otherwise I’m going to be resorting to talking about a lot of crap that I passed by when it was first released, and probably wouldn’t have even bothered seeing under normal circumstances. Like Bloodshot! That’s right, they decided to make a movie based on no-one’s favorite superhero, Bloodshot! Now, I talk about comics a lot here on this site, so it’s probably pretty clear by now that I’m a big fan of the medium. Especially superhero stories. But, if there’s one era of comic books that has never personally appealed to me, it’s the 1990’s. And, by and large, I feel like the books published by Valiant Comics are kind of perfect representations of why that era just doesn’t click with me. Weird, scratchy comics featuring insipid characters, ridiculous violence, and hilarious names, like Bloodshot! It’s just never been for me. So, when I heard that Vin Diesel, an actor whose appeal I’ve just never quite understood either, was going to be making a Bloodshot movie, I felt like it would probably not be winning me over. And, I was right.

Bloodshot tells the story of a US Marine named Ray Garrison, who goes on a relaxing vacation to Italy with his wife Gina after dealing with a particularly tense rescue operation in Kenya. However, while vacationing they’re both kidnapped by a group of mercenaries, who demand to know who told him and his commanders about the Kenyan mission. Ray pleads ignorance, and ends up seeing his wife murdered before his eyes before he too is killed. But, some time later he ends up waking up in the high-tech headquarters of a company called Rising Spirit, alive an with no memories. They have perfected a nano-bot based technology that was able to bring Ray back to life, replacing his blood with microscopic robots that keep him alive and greatly enhance his strength and natural attributes. Ray meets with the head of the company, Dr. Emil Harting, and ends up meeting the other experiments. There’s KT a diver who has a robotic esophagus, Jimmy Dalton who has robotic legs, and Marcus Tibbs who has a series of robotic eyes feeding him information. Ray gets along okay with everyone, and just tries to get used to his new life. But, while hanging out with KT Ray suddenly has a flash of memories, getting a clear image of the man who killed his wife. Ray goes rogue, utilizing the powers of his nano-bots, and ends up seeking the man down, brutally killing him.

Which, is exactly what Harting wanted. See, he isn’t a benevolent scientist, he actually purposefully picked Ray to be an experiment, and has been editing his memories, replacing the face of his wife’s killer with whoever he wants dead, specifically the other scientists who helped him develop this technology.Ray is programmed to hate the next person on Harting’s list, a scientist named Nick Baris, and he heads out to kill the man. However, Baris has learned about Ray, and has kidnapped a programmer named Wilfred Wigans to help build an EMP bomb capable to defeating Ray. Ray still manages to kill Baris though, and the EMP is able to knock him out, but he’s saved by Wigans, who actually planned this whole thing to get his hands on Ray. He frees Ray from Rising Spirit’s control, and ends up helping him gain access to his true memories, learning what Harting has been doing to him. And, this is coinciding with KT becoming disillusioned by Harting and their whole mission, so she offers to help Ray defeat Harting. Tibbs and Dalton manage to track Ray down, and bring him back to Rising Spirit, where Wigan and KT help Ray escape from his confines, leading to a massive fight. Ray is eventually able to kill Dalton and Tibbs, and then goes after Harting himself. A brief fight ends with both men dead, but Wigans is able to reconstruct Ray from the nanites, and he is brought back to life. And, Ray, Wigans, and KT then decide to work together, finding a way to use Rays powers to right wrongs.

 

 

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I’m not really sure that there is any version of Bloodshot that was going to appeal to me. The whole idea of a nano-bot assisted assassin who calls himself Bloodshot is just not comparable with my personal tastes. And, this film really didn’t dissuade me of that notion. I really don’t know much at all about Bloodshot aside from the broadest strokes, so I have no real idea if this film was accurate in the slightest, or if it was completely unrecognizable as a Bloodshot film. But, I kind of get the feeling that it may be the later. Everything about it feels like a generic action flick from 2003 that somehow fell through a time vortex and ended up on VOD in 2020. It’s got that typical fear of technology thing going, where any sort of technological aids are treated as gateways to supervillainy, it’s all about as predictable as can be, and it’s just full of ugly action that’s poorly shot and absolutely drenched with goofy CGI that just make it look like a poorly executed video game. It’s all just a little too forgettable and bland, nothing really that stand out, other than the fact that it really and truly seems to be an artifact from a begone time.

Comic books are big business. Obviously not the comics themselves, that industry is in constant chaos and is almost always on the brink of destruction. But, they are an incredibly fertile source of stories for other mediums to lift from and bring to wider success. The highest grossing movie in the world is one where Iron Man defeats Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet. Comic books have become mainstream. And yet, this film feels like it’s from an era where people were still lifting from comic books, but were incredibly ashamed to do so. There’s nothing really comic-booky about this film, and Vin Diesel only even looks like Bloodshot for like five minutes. The film doesn’t really seem to feature many comics book characters, and just told a generic sci-fi action film that is hoping to cash in on a what slight brand recognition there is for Bloodshot by having Vin Diesel look a little pale for a few moments in the final fight. Which, just feels weird. We live in a world where any average person on the street is completely aware of the existence of Rocket Raccoon, playing this obliquely with a comic book property just seems strange.

 

Bloodshot was written by Jeff Wadlow a nd Eric Heisserer, directed by David S F Wilson, and released by Sony Pictures Releasing, 2020.

 

 

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