As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 is the first year since 2008 not to feature any new Marvel films. Despite the fact that Wonder Woman 1984 still has a Christmas release date, it wouldn’t surprise me if it still got moved back into 2021. With the exception Tenent, 2020 has been the year of the anti-blockbuster.
I have to admit that, at first, it really bothered me that I was going to have to wait to see both Black Widow and the new Wonder Woman film but, as more time has gone by, the less I actually care about either one of them. I think one reason why comic book films have been so popular over the past few years is because they were relentless. There was always a new one coming out. If you were disappointed with Captain Marvel, you could still say that the trailer for Endgame looked really good. If you were less than thrilled with Batman v Superman, you could at least look forward to Wonder Woman. Now that we’re no longer being inundated on a daily basis with new MCU trailers and DCEU gossip. it’s a lot easier to realize that a few of those films were surprisingly good (and I stand by my declaration that Guardians of the Galaxy was the best film of 2014) and some of them were notably bad but the majority of them were entertaining without being particularly memorable.
That bring us to Bloodshot. Depending on whether or not Wonder Woman 1984 holds onto that Christmas release date and if The New Mutants are forgotten about, Bloodshot could down in history as the only major comic book film released in 2020. It stars Vin Diesel as Ray Garrison, a dead Marine who is revived and turned into an invulnerable super soldier. Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) sends Ray after the people who previously killed him and his wife, Gina (Talulah Riley). Ray kills a lot of people over the course of Bloodshot. He also continually wakes up in that laboratory, with no memory of who he is. Could Harting just be using Ray to kills own enemies? It’s possible, if just because I don’t think there’s been a heroic character named Emil in a comic book movie.
As a film, Bloodshot is …. well, it’s okay. If you’re going to make a movie about a relentless super soldier who can’t be killed, Vin Diesel is probably the best actor that you could get to star in it. (Yes, Dwayne Johnson could play the physical aspect of the role but his natural likability would go against the whole relentless killer thing. Diesel, on the other hand, can actually convince you that he’s planning on murdering everyone that he sees.) And if you need someone to play a smarmy mad scientist named Emil Harting, Guy Pearce seems like the obvious choice. The action scenes are well-done, even if they do go a bit overboard on the slow motion. The CGI is convincing. When Ray gets a bit of his face blown off, it legitimately looks like a chunk of his face is breaking off of him. (Fear not, Ray has super healing.) Much like Ray, the film has a job to do and it doesn’t let much get in the way of doing that job.
And yet, the film itself is never exactly memorable. There’s none of the little quirks or unexpected moments that distinguish the better comic book films. Instead, Bloodshot feels like a throwback to the days before comic book films became a big deal. We know that Guy Pearce is evil from the minute he shows up, just as we know that the film is going to end with a battle the involves a lot of flashy CGI. No effort is really made to take anyone by surprise. Bloodshot goes through the paces and hits all of the expected notes but it’s never really lively enough to be engaging on anything more than a “Hey, did you just see Vin Diesel kill that guy!?” sort of way. Bloodshot is a film that’s just there. Occasionally, it’s entertaining but ultimately, it’s rather forgettable.