Note: AMC announced Tuesday that all of its theaters, including Manhattan's, will be closed for six to 12 weeks because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Got cabin fever? How about a couple of mindless hours at the movies?
One of the weekend’s new offerings is an action picture based on a comic book. And just to vary the game, this one hasn’t been made with the sort of huge budget that the popular DC and Marvel movies rely on.
The movie in question is the oddly named “Bloodshot.” This is the first film in a proposed series about a Valiant Comics series starring a character who you can call Ray — you don’t have to call him “Bloodshot.”
Besides the freshness forced on the film by its limits of scale, the picture’s great strength is its two-man cast. Vin Diesel, long the wheel horse of the “Fast and Furious” movies, plays the title character.
Ray has been killed by a terrorist, or so it seems. Then his body has been turned over to an English bio-engineering weapons manufacturer. The project that refits and revives Ray is run by Dr. Harting, played by Guy Pearce.
From his appearance in “L.A. Confidential,” Pearce has been a much-admired actor who can take a lead, anchor a TV series (see the “Jack Irish” one), or fill out a cast. And he’s got a sense of humor.
In “Bloodshot,” his likability quotient is the best camouflage the story’s complication has got. You see, all is not what it seems in the corporate world of deceased soldier revitalization.
Harting is using Ray to do some dirty work. Over five years, Ray has been rebuilt, given self-repairing micobots as blood, and given a false memory of a terrorist killing his wife (with what vets, butchers, and Dick Francis call a “humane killer”).
The fake memory continues to have the villain taunt Ray before killing him, too. So when the refurbished Ray is awakened, he uses his new wiring, wi-fi and the internet to find and cancel the man whose face appeared in his recollection.
Seven times, I believe it is, Dr. Harting gives him a memory with a new villain, though the stories of wife murder, taunting and death are always the same. And every time Ray gets his false revenge on the target.
But the last time Harting sends him after a former business partner named Baris. No, not the “Gong Show” host who wrote the hit record “Palisades Park” and whose autobiography tells of his years as a CIA killer. This one is played by Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, who seems to like to work with Pearce.
Baris has his own tech genius adviser, a happy fellow named Wiggins (Lamorne Morris). He is sick of working for Baris but recognizes that Harting is a real danger.
So he does his own reprograming of the cyborg. When Ray realizes how he has been tricked, Dr. Harting has to keep him busy or destroy him. Because guess who is his next revenge target.
This is an action film, and there are action sequences, all of them involving more than the ordinary amount of computer-generated graphics. Two are probably longer than the others.
In one, the taunting, dancing target is in the lead Humvee of a parade of six. They enter a traffic tunnel in Budapest. But their way out is blocked by an overturned semi-truck. Gray ash is, for some reason, everywhere.
Then here comes super-strong, quick-healing, hyper-connected Ray. When they shoot him, slo-mo shows us his regeneration.
The other long action scene is probably more satisfying. In it, Ray is going up in the London skyscraper to get his final revenge on Harting. But to reach the man, he must overcome two fellow hybrids who attack him as they zip up and down two elevator shafts.
Besides acting — as did “Universal Soldier” before it — as a warning about using humans as tanks, “Bloodshot” is redeemed only because it acts as a distraction in a time when we need pastimes.