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'Bloodshot' review: Sci-fi pulp is the perfect vehicle for Vin Diesel

Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) and Ray Garrison

Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) and Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) in the RST Lab in Columbia Pictures' "Bloodshot." Credit: Sony Pictures/Graham Bartholomew

PLOT A dead soldier is revived and rebuilt as a killing machine.

CAST Vin Diesel, Eiza Gonzalez, Guy Pearce

RATED PG-13 (strong violence)


BOTTOM LINE Diesel is in his element in this efficient high-tech action-thriller.

If Vin Diesel were a 12-year-old boy, he couldn't have dreamt up a better movie for his fan base than "Bloodshot.” The story of a dead soldier who becomes a high-tech angel of vengeance, it's violent but not traumatizing, sexy but not too romantic, totally preoccupied with weaponry and driven almost entirely by stunts and effects. In short, it's the perfect vehicle for Diesel, the man behind the glossy "Fast and Furious" franchise and the enjoyably trashy "Riddick" and "xXx" properties.

Diesel plays Ray Garrison, a U.S. soldier (in which branch? Like you care) whose final moments are grim. He's bound to a chair in a meat-locker, while a guy named Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell) does the Tarantino shuffle before putting a cattle-bolt to the head of Garrison's wife, Gina (Talulah Riley). The tune on the radio is Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer,” but before Garrison can say “on the nose,” Axe shoots him dead.

When Garrison wakes up, he's in the pristine lab of RST Corp. – for Rising Spirit Technologies – where he's been revived and re-engineered into something beyond human. His blood contains tiny robots, called nanites, that can heal any injury, while his brain has built-in wi-fi for accessing websites and satellite feeds. His new RST teammates are also former soldiers: Dalton, a surly jerk with metal legs (Sam Heugan); Tibbs, whose eyes have been replaced by ocular lenses (Alex Hernandez); and KT, a total babe marred only by a tasteful little air-vent in her clavicle (Eiza Gonzalez). Guess which one Garrison takes a shine to.

As Garrison seeks vengeance against Axe, “Bloodshot” unfolds as a familiar but entertaining piece of sci-fi pulp. Director David S.F. Wilson keeps the pace fast and the action flashy, while the script, by Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer, has moments of intelligence. It turns out Garrison's memory isn't exactly reliable, and therefore neither are his motivations. Garrison and his new master, RST honcho Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), have a fairly deep discussion about fate, freedom and reality while standing in “the neurospace.” 

Because “Bloodshot” is based on a comic book (by Valiant), it is nominally a superhero movie, though it has little in the way of costumes or chest logos. For the most part, Diesel is still playing Diesel, the unfazeable action hero with his own moral code and so much machismo that he barely has time for women.

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