Movies

Vin Diesel's Bloodshot Is the Perfect Movie For the New Direct-to-Streaming Era

This occasionally competent sci-fi action film is best enjoyed from the comfort of a couch.

|

Faced with nationwide closures and an empty release schedule, movie theaters are asking for bailout money. The chief of the theater owner's lobby pitched it this way: As public gathering places, theaters are uniquely affected by the spread of COVID-19, and also comparatively inexpensive to prop up. The theater industry hasn't named a dollar figure, but for less than the price of bailing out one airline, you could save the entire theater industry, he told The New York Times. What's one more airplane brand next to the magic of the silver screen? Besides, people will need someplace to go when it's all over.

I am a little bit sympathetic to this line of thinking. I rarely fly, but I see movies frequently. Over the course of my life, movie theaters have provided me with thousands of hours of escape, entertainment, and engagement, both by myself and in the company of others. I genuinely believe that theaters, as director Christopher Nolan recently wrote, are a "vital part of social life." 

Still, I have to wonder: Have any of these people seen Bloodshot

Bloodshot is a PG-13 action film starring Vin Diesel, based on a somewhat obscure comic book from the 1990s, directed by a first-timer with a background in computer animation. If you asked a machine learning program to survey the last several years of theatrical releases and then generate its own by algorithm, it would probably come up with something like this. Bloodshot is very nearly the median Hollywood film. 

The movie was initially released in theaters two weeks ago, playing on about 2,800 movie screens domestically. Since then, a few things have changed. 

Today, barely any movie theaters are still open in the United States. As a result, many movies that were scheduled to open in the next several months have been delayed until after our viral apocalypse. In the meantime, several recent theatrical releases have found their way to video on demand. Normally this takes months, since theater owners have negotiated an exclusivity period with movie studios. But what's a theatrical release window when there are no theaters to release into? 

That is why, for a mere $19.99, you can now own-to-stream a 4k digital copy of Bloodshot from Amazon, iTunes, and other fine purveyors of high-quality ones and zeroes.

It's appropriate for a movie about a soldier given a digital rebirth. Diesel plays Ray Garrison, who is resurrected after losing both his wife and his life on a mission abroad. In his reincarnated form, he's a supersoldier held together by nanites, tiny bio-machines that rapidly heal wounds and give him super strength. Naturally, he seeks revenge, and with the help of a similarly super-powered squad of nano-soldiers, brought together by Dr. Emil Harting, a twitchy scientist played by Guy Pearce, he embarks on a mission to take down the sociopathic Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell), who stole everything from him. 

From there, the movie goes roughly where you expect it to go—and then, perhaps, a little further, with a twist that essentially turns into a kind of over-muscled sci-fi action-movie riff on Groundhog Day, albeit without the wit or light-footedness that made Edge of Tomorrow so enjoyable. Connoisseurs of slow-motion punching will no doubt appreciate the many slow-motion punches, along with the reasonably competent action scenes that director David S.F. Wilson builds with them. Generally speaking, you can tell what's going on, which is high praise for today's mid-budget action movies. 

As Garrison, Diesel spends the movie hulking and glowering in hopes that this will serve as a rough substitute for acting. He has a volcanically low voice that will challenge even the most competent subwoofer, but it's the only place his character shows signs of depth. You learn more about Garrison from the various performance monitors set up in Dr. Hartin's lab than from Diesel's one-note performance. At one point, the camera cuts to a screen purporting to monitor his "brain activity." It's low. 

In some ways, this is just par for the course for Diesel—an international superstar thanks to the Fast and the Furious franchise, but better understood as B-movie brawn. He has frequently dabbled in modestly budgeted action cheese. This has occasionally produced high-quality results, as in Pitch Black…but it has also occasionally given us movies like The Last Witch Hunter. (With a title like that, one can at least take solace in the hope that there won't be any sequels.).  

Diesel has a predilection for gloomy pulp, the sort of enjoyable trash that's best enjoyed in a college dorm room around 2 a.m. or as a television matinee on an afternoon spent channel surfing or app browsing. Bloodshot is no exception. It's a movie that was intended for theaters, and it even briefly surfaced in them. But it works better at home, from the comfort of one's own couch, probably while keeping a distracted eye on one's phone. It's not a movie that needs to be watched so much as one that you wouldn't mind having on. Bloodshot is not a great movie by any means, but watching it from the comfort of my basement living room, I thought: This is not too bad. 

I like movies—especially movies seen in a theater—as much as anyone. I hope our theaters reopen soon. And I genuinely worry that if this pause in theatrical viewing extends long enough, it will ultimately eliminate much of the theatrical experience as we have always known it. But I am also mindful of the potential for salutary effects from this otherwise awful scenario. 

It's true, as the theater owners say, that when this stay-at-home nightmare is over, people will need someplace to go. But no one needs to go out to see a replacement-level actioner like Bloodshot. Perhaps, in our post-viral rebirth, movies like this will more frequently find a fast route to the couch-based viewing where they are best appreciated. 

NEXT: Parents Charged with Endangering Their Children by Having Large Party at Their House

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. [ FOR USA ONLY ]

    If You Are On A Lookout For A Way To Earn Your First Dollar Online You Can Stop Searching!
    Start Now With This Award Winning Program And Receive Your First Paycheck Within A Week!
    Find out more…….. Details Here

  2. “I like movies—especially movies seen in a theater—as much as anyone. I hope our theaters reopen soon. And I genuinely worry that if this pause in theatrical viewing extends long enough, it will ultimately eliminate much of the theatrical experience as we have always known it. But I am also mindful of the potential for salutary effects from this otherwise awful scenario.”

    I’m sorry Suderman, not trying to be rude but you are a flamboyant pussy rolling around your very own mental jungle gym.

  3. But no one needs to go out to see a replacement-level actioner like Bloodshot.

    I’m surprised that Suder-man is entirely missing the point of the theater experience. The content certainly matters. But it’s the content PLUS the experience (big screen, loud sound, group emotion) that people pay for. So that’s why a movie like Bloodshot can still make money at the theater. People want the overall experience and will take some mediocre content given what other options are available on other screens at that time.

    Because that’s the thing. The number of screens offering that experience is finite. So your content choices that offer that theater experience are extremely limited.

    There is no such limitation with home viewing. So…why the fuck would I ever pay 19.99 for mediocre content when there are tens of thousands of other mediocre content choices at are 3/4’s of the price, if not “free” (bundled with a larger service)?

    I can’t see how there’s any market for $20 mediocre home viewing. Only PPV of live events can generate that type of premium.

    1. why the fuck would I ever pay 19.99 for mediocre content when there are tens of thousands of other mediocre content choices at are 3/4’s of the price, if not “free” (bundled with a larger service)?

      I found myself wondering the same thing. Why would I pay $20 for this when there’s plenty of Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, and Tony Jaa movies available on either Netflix or Amazon Prime for a fraction of the price? Doesn’t make sense.

      1. Well, in theory (at least on Amazon Prime) you Own it. It isn’t pay-per-view, it’s pay to own a digital copy. Now, granted, we haven’t yet seen the legal battle coming over just how far ownership of this kind of content goes, and maybe you only want to see the thing once. But until I figure out an easy way to get movies from disc to my iPad, digital works for me. Easier to shelve, too.

    2. The ‘movie experience’ is mostly overpriced snacks, idiots flashing cell phones as they continue social media use throughout the film, and kids crying, and couples talking like they were alone at home on the couch and couldn’t bother anyone.
      Wouldn’t miss it a bit if they don’t get bailed out. Especially since Hollywood can bail them out just like Gates and Bezos and all the other windfall tech giants can bail themselves out.
      What about the wage slaves who no longer work at the theaters? Who bails them out?

    3. I went to a movie theater to watch Floyd Mayweather against Shane Moseley a few years ago.
      It was $20 or $25 as opposed to $50+ to order the PPV.
      It was… a lot of fun.
      I don’t know what going to a big fight live is like, but the crowd experience at that theater was the closest approximation I could guess.
      Much better than going to a crowded as hell bar

  4. I had high hopes for Vin Diesel. As actors go, he is a lot like the Godzilla franchise. Godzilla is a fun romp. But every attempt to take it too seriously- to get away from the dudes in rubber suits crashing around buildings- ultimately leads to disappointment. Yet 2 years later, someone is trying to do it again. Vin Diesel is the same- a non actor who looks good and is merely a lump of lead that anchors a whirlwind film.

    The funny thing is, I think Vin Diesel knows this but doesn’t give a shit. I have seen him in movies, and in games and even the rides at universal studios, and he is always the worst person on the screen. Here is the guy who gets top billing for these experiences, and it is always clear that he is the one person phoning it in. B-list actors are trying their best to earn their paycheck, and there is Diesel just riding on his name. I look forward to the days when the industry gets over him.

    1. Diesel can’t actually act. What you are seeing is him giving it an honest go, and failing spectacularly.

  5. Like others I wouldn’t pat 20 bucks to see a mediocre movie. However, as someone who doesn’t go to the movies on a regular basis, the last adult movie I went to see at a theater was Gladiator, I wonder why the government has to bail out theaters? Let the studios and the actors do that after all that’s who make billions from the theaters. After all why should I support a group of people who push a political philosophy that is the antithesis of mine.

    I did go to a couple of kids movies with my grandson like the Minion movies, stopped going to those and just let my wife go to them with him.

    1. >>last adult movie I went to see at a theater was Gladiator

      mine was Sixth Sense

  6. He has a volcanically low voice that will challenge even the most competent subwoofer, but it’s the only place his character shows signs of depth.

    Oooooh. As much as I think Vin Diesel has been enough fun in enough movies to make future movies of his a plausible option, this does just about sum him up.

    I remember an obit for Charles Bronson which said that while he was never an excellent actor, he was consistent and watchable: as long as you expected a Charles Bronson movie going in, you would never leave disappointed. I’m not sure Vin Diesel quite matches that.

    1. Charles Bronson could actually kick ass as well, he once broke both arms of an attacker.

      1. that said I wouldn’t mess with Vin Diesel either. he may be an actor but i’m sure all those fighting roles help, he’d have to retain some of the moves

  7. Vin Diesel regularly visits our site sex dortmund and talks with sexy girls at the forefront of the night

  8. I do think Vin Diesel’s movies are fun, and I love the fact that this isn’t another Fast and the Furious sequel, because I’m pretty tired of seeing announcements for these (can’t even remember what the f.. happened to the plot after Tokyo Drift, after which I stopped seeing them). I’m having good expectations about this movie. Thanks for the Amazon suggestion. This piece reminds me of an article that you can watch , it’s kind of a bad thing, in my opinion, to measure a movie success in terms of theater revenue given the corona-virus situation, but I do think it is a good thing to be a little skeptic about Vin’s acting, because I also agree Riddick was his best role until now. (Though he has a super obscure movie in which he’s a mobster or something, and he’s got hair!)

  9. It’s tempting to say that a government forcing a business to close at a time like this is a taking that deserves compensation. But that ignores the fact that this closure is just another form of regulation. If you give government the power to close businesses on a whim, you can’t be upset when they use that power. Furthermore, I’m sure the movie industry has benefited from past regulations, many of which probably protect them from unwanted competition. So in this case: Too bad. So sad. You should have saved up for a rainy day.

  10. “high-quality ones and zeroes.” Somebody give Suderman a raise! (deduct it from funds squandered on Nick, because TANSTAAFL)

  11. I have not RTA but Peter being “sympathetic” to theaters is rich. They’re expensive, they’re gross, they are an excellent place to spread not just disease but parasites like bedbugs. They’re also irrelevant, since all the magic of theaters was compressed into house-sized entertainment centers decades ago. The sooner theaters go the way of the dinosaur, the sooner we get day-0 digital delivery. They’re already inching that way; all we need is the bottom to fall out of the industry.

    If Disney wants to rescue the theaters, let them.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.