Bloodshot stars Vin Diesel as a cybernetically enhanced military man

1170485 - Bloodshot Vin Diesel in Bloodshot. Picture: Graham Bartholomew
1170485 - Bloodshot Vin Diesel in Bloodshot. Picture: Graham Bartholomew

Bloodshot (M)

Two stars

Before the title sequence in this harmless mid-level budget sci-fi action flick, we meet Vin Diesel's character Ray Garrison as he once was.

He's American military, an unstoppable force.

There is something legit tearing up the Amalfi Coast and it's not coronavirus.

It's a bunch of bad guys with equally bad South African accents.

And they're not just after Diesel, they're after his wife.

With the bad guys apparently triumphant, the credits start and we witness the Six Million Dollar Man miracle that Ray Garrison becomes.

He's now cybernetically enhanced.

Victor Frankenstein to Diesel's monster is Dr Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), a government genius running a multi-billion dollar program taking former military figures, repairing their earned imperfections with high-tech kit and using them as weapons.

Those human weapons include KT (Eiza Gonzalez) whose damaged lungs have been exchanged for a new set of airbags immune to chemical weapons, and the brooding Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan), his legs replaced with new mechanics and a very human bad attitude.

Granting him membership to this League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for cybernetically advanced super-soldiers are Ray's new enhancements.

They include an internal army of nano-computers to heal any injury as it happens.

He is granted unprecedented strength and a WiFi connection that hooks him up to traffic cameras, police and military systems.

1170485 - Bloodshot Dr Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), left, and Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) in Bloodshot. Picture: Graham Bartholomew

1170485 - Bloodshot Dr Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), left, and Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) in Bloodshot. Picture: Graham Bartholomew

Ray has a catchphrase he's trying to make happen - "I always come home" - which he throws around like he's a contestant on Project Runway, trying to self-brand. Worse, he throws out 1980s action film tropes like 'What the hell Doc?' until he's only one overused trope away from "I'm too old for this [expletive]''.

If Ray and his pals seem like such cartoonish stereotypes, it's because they are drawn from the pages of Valiant Comics books from the early 1990s. Valiant have an army of characters and they dream of a Marvel Universe moment for their hundreds of lesser-known characters. I'm not sure this is the film to open that door for them. However, it tries its hardest to set up a new franchise for Diesel as he ages out of his Xtreme Sports action hero Xander Cage.

The film reveals a shift in its third act which is fun and gives the plot a bit of meat.

Bloodshot is directed by computer game guru Dave Wilson. He is making a feature film debut after a distinguished career on games like Halo Wars and BioShock Infinite (ask your kids). It feels like a video game, in that many of the visuals are impressive, but also dark, confusing and with so much happening on the screen at once.

But when the cameras move to locations like Budapest, Jacques Jouffret's camera works hard and the film is great to look at.

The film borrows so liberally from decades of pop culture it struggles to have a personality of its own, while still feeling comfortably familiar.

Diesel gives everything he has, which includes mumbling, monosyllables and muscles. He knows his audience and so do Sony who invest heavily here, especially in the film's great effects. The nano-bot in-motion self-healing Diesel reminded me of a Body Worlds exhibition channeling Robert Patrick's T-1000 from Terminator 2.

For pop-culture fans, this is dumb fun, even if it does make 109 minutes outstay their welcome longer than a 12-part Netflix series.

This story Dumb fun for pop-culture junkies first appeared on The Canberra Times.