At first glance, Bloodshot seems a very on-brand Vin Diesel movie. It kicks off with an action sequence that has the hulking leading man barreling into a dangerous scenario, successfully kicking butt without breaking a sweat. Then, we follow him to an exotic location, where he strips down to his signature white-tank top to be greeted by a fawning female character who exists chiefly to be as naked as a PG-13 rating allows. Naturally, tragedy will strike, pushing Diesel’s hero into hell-bent on vengeance mode. But all is not what it seems in this surprising action flick.Based on the popular Valiant Comics series created by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin, and Bob Layton, Bloodshot follows former soldier Ray Garrison (Diesel) on a globe-trekking mission of revenge. Ray’s career in the military ended in his death, but groundbreaking nanotech — from genius engineer Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) — resurrects him to fight another day. While he now has super strength and healing powers, his memories are gone.

This section of the film is painfully clichéd. The opening action scene featuring a camo-wearing and gun-strapped Diesel facing down a frothing hostage-taker seems snatched from a shoot-em-up video game’s cut scene. Then, Ray’s wife Gina (Talulah Riley) appears in virginal white to exude innocence just moments before she’ll show us her panties and some side-boob to prove what a stud the hero is. Then, she’ll be swiftly fridged because behind every great man is a woman’s corpse that motivates him.

Early fight scenes have a high body count and a symphony of gunfire, but very little bloodshed because a PG-13 rating won’t allow for that. These same restrictions mean the editing style of such scenes is of the frantic, blurry, quick-cut variety that makes the action often incoherent. Further masking the realistic impacts of gunshots and crushed skulls are shadows and smoke effects created by a field of spilled flour. Which is flammable IRL but isn’t in the film for reasons as simple as someone probably didn’t do their research.

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