Monday, March 16, 2020


It's not always a complete failure of imagination to see a movie while on vacation in a foreign land, but sometimes it can feel that way, especially if you wind up seeing something that is a wide release also playing back home. Still, there's not much you can do sometimes - Blenheim, New Zealand, near the end of the summer is a quiet darn place, as evidenced by the complete lack of transit from the ferry in Picton, the 4.4km I had to walk to the aviation center, the way that even on a Saturday, things just seemed to shut down, and the screwy air route I took to Christchurch the next day. By 6pm, if Bloodshot was the thing at the local theater I hadn't seen, Bloodshot was what I was doing that night.

I didn't get pictures of the theater, because there were just enough other people there that it would have been weird, but it was a nice-enough little place - four screens in the back, a smaller "lounge" screen with more boutique fare in the front, a well-stocked concession stand and bar on one side and not quite enough lightboxes for posters on the other. From what I can tell, the Event Cinemas chain bought out the old Top Town theater in the past few years, and it looks it, with bits of both everywhere you look from the outside - where it looks like a neighborhood theater in that it's seamlessly part of the buildings around it - in.

I did wind up ignoring the seating assignment put on my ticket, because they didn't ask and I'm not going to take seat J-11 when nobody is near B-10. There were maybe a half-dozen of us there on a Saturday night, and I'm curious as to how much of that was "seasonal town emptying out now that the wine people aren't coming" and how much was Kiwis starting to social distance because of the pandemic (and how much was "Bloodshot? Eh, whatever."). It's certainly been a strange last few days, as it doesn't seem like the places I am in NZ are starting to hunker down yet, although I don't exactly know what they look like on busy/dead days. Hopefully I haven't been out of line.

Anyway, this is probably my last theatrical film for a while, what with everyplace closing up back home and self-isolating being the obvious sensible thing to do there. I guess it's time to start plowing through those piles of discs.


* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 14 March 2020 in Event Cinemas Blenheim #4 (first-run, DCP)

Valiant Comics has, at points in its various incarnations, sometimes been the third-most popular shared universe in the medium, and that's a rough place to be - who needs to keep up with more of those after Marvel and DC, even when they do land some decent talent? But everyone wants a piece of what Marvel's got, so more of them are springing up despite the fact that will take years to build up the same sort of catalog, and Sony figures they might as well try making a couple films from one of the lesser-known lines, which has its fans and, who knows, may just be fun enough to connect when it's not being swamped with similar, more-established competition on a given week.

They start with Bloodshot, which is a film built for those who no longer need to be eased into a superhero universe or find such things particularly extraordinary: When Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is revived after a seemingly-fatal gunshot wound with a bloodstream full of reconstructive nanotechnology, he's surrounded by others with advanced prostheses right away, and it not only doesn't take long before he finds that these nanites somehow give him not just the stamina to push through injury, but enhanced strength and an always-on internet connection because of all the nanites in his brain, but everyone rolls with it without much question. It's kind of odd that nobody either references that this sort of larger-than-life thing happens all the time or acts surprised, but by now audiences have been seeing these things long enough to easily skp over the preliminaries and catch when the filmmakers throw a wink in their direction.

Even if that attitude lets things move smoothly, it does rather make the film feel like the plot is something of an obligation. Even without the previews laying out more of the film than seems typical - and credit writers Jeff Wadlow & Eric Heisserer and director Dave Wilson for making a movie with enough with and snappy pacing that its opening half can survive a bunch of its reversals and revelations being spoiled by the ad campaign - there are relatively few surprises here, and sometimes a lot of corners cut. The group Ray finds himself winds up choosing sides in fairly arbitrary manner as the film heads to its conclusion, and while the big confrontation at the climax has him yelling "you don't know anything about people like me", it's hard to avoid the fact that the audience doesn't either. It's the sort of movie that has so much misdirection to keep the viewer guessing that it doesn't have room for the bits that would give that sort of moment a solid foundation.

Full review on EFilmCritic

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