Film Review - Bloodshot

This image released by Columbia Pictures shows Vin Diesel in a scene from “Bloodshot.”

Yeah, yeah, I know Vin Diesel’s new superhero movie “Bloodshot” is based on a Valiant comic book of the same name. But for my money, as a former publisher of Marvel, I’d say it owes its pedigree to Captain America.

According to the new movie’s premise, a U.S. Marine named Ray Garrison (played by muscular Vin Diesel) is murdered, but the government brings him back from the dead as a super soldier, a superhuman, biotech killing machine.

Sound familiar? According to Marvel’s canon, a soldier named Steve Rogers is used as a guinea pig to create a super soldier known as Captain America. At the end of World War II, Cap crashes into the icy North Atlantic and is presumed dead. Many years later he is resurrected to continue his fight as a superhero.

Super soldiers will be super soldiers.

The plot of “Bloodshot” spends less time establishing its backstory than it does setting Ray Garrison on a vigilante-like pursuit of his murderers as his memory starts to return.

Nonetheless, the filmmakers insist this new movie is “unlike anything else with capes and cowls.” They describe it as a loving tribute to the gritty, violent, sci-fi and action blockbusters of the 1980s and ’90s.

Well, maybe.

“Bloodshot” is intended to be the first installment in a series of films set within a Valiant Comics shared cinematic universe.

We won’t quibble that Marvel and DC kinda invented superhero universes, a concept that got adopted by the movies. These days every film franchise from Universal Monsters to Star Wars to Godzilla and King Kong’s Monsterverse has its own cinematic universe.

So why not Valiant? Its characters deserve one.

This new superhero outing was produced by Columbia Pictures and distributed by Sony. As you know, Sony has had some experience with superhero movies, having produced all the Spider-Man films. Yes, when Marvel was trying to get its foot in the Hollywood door we gave Spider-Man movies to Sony.

Valiant has cut a five-picture deal. The “Bloodshot” and “Harbinger” comic books will get two movies each, with the fifth movie to be a crossover titled “Harbinger Wars.”

But first things first, we have this new release — first in the series — coming to theaters this week. You’ll find “Bloodshot” getting vengeance on the bad guys who killed him at AMC Classic Towne Crossing 8, 925 W. Andrew Johnson Highway.

Skinny Joker wannabe Jared Leto was originally in talks for this role, but hulking Vin Diesel stepped in to claim it. Diesel was looking for a new franchise, himself having been shoved aside by Dwayne Johnson in the “Fast & Furious” series.

Diesel has flirted with this type of movie before, with such sci-fi fare as “Riddick” and “Pitch Black” and even Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

How will “Bloodshot” be different?

“The Valiant comic books look like the world we live in,” says former Valiant CEO Denish Shamdasani. “The four-color world of Marvel movies, they do a great job of doing Jack Kirby costumes, but their world is kind of cartoon.”

Hmm. Stan Lee’s whole premise was to put super heroes into a real-world setting (New York City, mostly), unlike a fictional Metropolis or Gotham City.

“We’re not following a tried and tested movie structure,” admits Shamdasani, who is also one of the producers of “Bloodshot.”

Will it work? Will this new super hero cinematic universe knock Marvel aside? Let’s let the box-office results speak for themselves as Sony competes with itself.

Shirrel Rhoades is a film critic and former media executive. He previously served as executive vice president of Marvel Entertainment and has produced several movies and documentaries. He was also a senior faculty member of New York University’s Center for Publishing. He lives in Key West, Florida, and Lake Lure, North Carolina. Contact him at

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