Marvel and DC films have been at the forefront of the comic book movie boom that has been going on for two decades now. But just as those two heavyweights are not the only options in your local comic book shop, the success of the genre has given smaller titles a chance to shine on the big screen. Films like Dredd, Hellboy and 300 have shown that there’s more to comics than just traditional Marvel and DC fare. That continues with this weekend’s Bloodshot.
Based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name, Bloodshot stars Vin Diesel as Ray Garrison, a former soldier who was killed in action and then brought back to life, gaining superpowers in the process. Thanks to nanites injected into his blood, Ray becomes a super soldier with newfound strength and the ability to heal almost instantly. But with his memory wiped, Bloodshot is out to find the truth about his past. So is Valiant Comics’ first foray into feature film a worthy one?
The first reviews for Bloodshot are now in and the film doesn't seem to be the unequivocal home run that Valiant Entertainment surely was hoping for. CinemaBlend's own Sean O'Connell was a bit bummed out by the film, giving Bloodshot 2 out of 5 stars in his review and saying:
The movie, like the book that it’s based on, dabbles in futuristic sci-fi gimmickry and bare-knuckle military firepower. And it kind of works, until first-time director Dave Wilson loses control of the narrative and prays that chincy-looking CGI will bail him out of trouble. It doesn’t, and that’s a shame.
By the sound of it, Bloodshot has some interesting science fiction going on and the potential is there, but like so many superhero movies (and really blockbusters more generally), it eventually falls apart and gives way to an ugly CGI mess. This sentiment was echoed by Slashfilm's Chris Evangelista, who gave Bloodshot a rating of 4 out of 10 and wrote:
Material like this could ultimately be saved by some cool action beats, but Bloodshot has none. A climactic battle with Ray and another character falling off the side of a building is so cartoonish, with the actors rendered as rubbery CGI blobs, that it borders on incompetent.
A common thread among some of the reviews so far for Bloodshot is that it feels like a movie made in the '90s, and not in a good way. That same criticism could have been levied at Venom, which found success on the back of an interesting dynamic with the main character. There is no such distinguishing factor here according to The Wrap's Robert Abele, who wrote:
Bloodshot, which borrows from the team-building action genre, vengeance yarns, cautionary sci-fi and alternate-reality puzzlers before settling into the usual Bayhem-adjacent CGI chaos, is never good enough at any of these elements to set itself apart.
The Guardian's Charles Bramesco largely echoed these sentiments in his review of the film, while allowing a caveat for Vin Diesel's performance. Charles gave Bloodshot 2 out of 5 stars and wrote:
Aside from the singular brawn of its leading man, this would-be springboard has nothing much worth launching. It’s a stack of wormed-over action tropes, and to make matters worse, the movie knows it – and yet does not know enough to spare us its missteps in the first place.
Interestingly, Vin Diesel's performance seems to be something that critics can't agree on in the reviews for Bloodshot so far. Depending on what you read, the Fast and Furious star is either the best part of the movie or the worst. Charles Bramesco thought he outdid the entire cast with his magnetism and the gravitas and physicality he brought to the role.
ScreenRant's Molly Freeman however, thought Vin Diesel was miscast, despite liking the movie better than many other critics. Molly gave Bloodshot a fairly good 2.5 out of 5 stars and wrote:
Bloodshot puts a surprisingly clever spin on the superhero origin story that's fun and funny, but Diesel's performance ultimately leaves it lacking.
Pretty much every superhero movie made in the modern era has its eyes on the future, with grand visions of franchises and cinematic universes dancing in the heads of studio execs. That holds true for Sony's Bloodshot, but things are not off to a great start, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Justin Lowe, who wrote:
Based on the popular Valiant Comics character, Bloodshot’s origin story represents Sony’s attempt to stake a claim to a cinematic universe that could become a competitive superhero franchise, but this initial installment consistently struggles to deliver the goods.
Lastly we have Variety's Owen Gleiberberman, who gave Bloodshot a fresh review and summed up his feelings on the film with a delightful and perhaps fitting metaphor:
Bloodshot is a trash compactor of a comic-book film, but it’s smart trash, an action matrix that’s fun to plug into.
As of now, Bloodshot sits at 41% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 22 reviews. That will obviously change once more reviews come in, but as you can see, critical opinion is mixed, but definitely leaning more on the negative side.
Some critics found Bloodshot to be a clichéd mess full of ugly CGI, while others had fun with the film for what it is. No one is heralding Bloodshot as the best comic book movie next to The Dark Knight, but in a relatively slow weekend, you might find it an entertaining way to spend two hours.
Bloodshot opens on March 13. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to keep track of everything else headed to theaters this year.