When I first saw the preview for Bloodshot, I thought “Wow, they’re rebooting Universal Soldier . . . for some reason.” I do not expect any of you to remember Universal Soldier, but the upshot of it was Jean-Claude Van Damme as Private Luc Devereaux, an American soldier who is brought back to life to carry out the nefarious goals of a shadowy corporation. It was pretty dumb, but when you are twelve you enjoy watching Belgians kick people in the face, particularly Swedes (Dolph Lundgren as Andrew Scott), in a grudge match that was likely fueled by every drug you can name. Without the drugs (so far as I know) and the Europeans trying to pass themselves off as Americans, this is basically what goes on in Bloodshot, though it tosses in an extra emotional layer of revenge into the mix.
I will admit that Bloodshot was not quite as bad as I was expecting. Vin Diesel (Ray Garrison) actually shows a bit of range in his performance, you know, when he decides to not either mumble or yell. He does tend to be a little robotic in his roles. Then again, the company (I have already forgotten its name, and I just left the theater a little over a half hour ago) wanted a robot. You see, in this version of Universal Soldier their bioengineered assassins are taking out supposed enemies. Why do they need to be killed? I was not too clear on that part. They just know stuff. So they take Ray’s corpse, inject it with billions of these tiny automatons (nanobites? nanobots? I don’t know), and turn him into an indestructible killing machine. These tiny machines instantly reconstruct Ray’s body whenever it is damaged, which, when you get right down to it, was the real reason for this movie. There were a bunch of people who were really into computers and comics, so they wanted a vehicle for their special effects and fantasies. They are nice.
So how are the people who did this to Ray able to convince him to go along with this mad scheme? Well, they kept erasing his memories, of course. Again, computers. Every time Ray carries out one of his assassination missions, they shut him down, erase his memories, and program in his next target. I will credit Bloodshot for not doing what I have seen in other films where you have a plot involving a time loop where that sequence gets played ad nauseam. It gives you the lowdown, makes sure you get the gist, and then moves along. The gist here is that Ray’s wife was murdered before his eyes, and this company uses his desire for revenge to take out targets for them. There is really not much more to it, nor does it try to be anything more, which is good (if you like that sort of thing).
Here is the thing about revenge: it really is not ours to take. And yes, that is my faith talking. Philosophically, Bloodshot seemed conflicted on this matter. On the one hand, it is the thing motivating Ray, and whenever he is triggered he is on a one-way mission of mayhem until he completes his task. Yet on the other, at the point in the film where the audience still does not know of the company’s ulterior motives and it looks like Ray has gotten his just desserts, KT (Elza Gonzalez) muses, “Makes you wonder if it was all worth it?” And yet Ray just keeps on going, getting even with the people he believes were responsible for the death of his wife and then those who had made him into what he had become. In other words, this was not a film to pay homage to the Christian principle of turning the other cheek. Anyway, I guess the good guys won, so that was something.
The truth is, I probably will barely remember Bloodshot a couple weeks from now, despite the poorly timed “Kobe!” phrase as Wilfred Wiggins (Lamorne Morris) attempts, and fails, to shoot a mini-basketball into a mini-hoop. I have seen worse. But I have seen better. Enough said.