"You’ve already ripped off every movie cliché there is," says someone halfway through Bloodshot. It’s almost as if writers Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer penned the line knowing full well the cine-larceny they were committing: RoboCop, Memento, Spider-Man 2… they’re nothing if not diverse in their plundering from other films. Shame, though, that this Valiant Comics adaptation doesn’t live up to any of its precedents.
Vin Diesel plays soldier Ray Garrison, who we first meet on a mission in Mombasa. Garrison and wife Gina (Talulah Riley) are kidnapped by Toby Kebbell’s ruthless Martin Axe, who arrives on camera to Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’. After hounding Ray for info about his just-completed operation, he proceeds to kill both him and Gina – before the opening titles, no less.
When Ray miraculously opens his eyes, he’s at RST – a hi-tech facility that has the technology to rebuild him, as they say, run by Guy Pearce’s free-thinking scientist Dr. Emil Harting and his assistant K.T. (Eiza González).
Now augmented with super-strength (he can punch a concrete pillar to bits) and ‘Nanites’ in his bloodstream that restore damaged cells, Garrison is the ultimate weapon. Handily, he also can’t remember a thing about his past, until another blast of Talking Heads takes him back to that terrible night, leaving him hellbent on vengeance.
There are plenty more plot and twists to come, but none of this is particularly original. The casting of Pearce, a far superior actor than this deserves, brings to mind Christopher Nolan’s own memory-addled revenger Memento; needless to say, the comparison doesn’t flatter Bloodshot.
Directed by VFX whiz David Wilson, the film fails to rejuvenate its hoary theme: whatever your past, you can choose who you want to be. There are some half-decent set-pieces – one fight in a collapsing lift-shaft works well – and a fun turn from Lamorne Morris as a tech nerd who could hold the key to Ray’s survival. But with Diesel on autopilot, Bloodshot feels dead on arrival.