Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
USA, 2020. Columbia Pictures, Bona Film Group, Annabell Pictures, The Hideaway Entertainment, Original Film, Valiant Entertainment, Hivemind, Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa, Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, Province of British Columbia Production Services Tax Credit. Story by Jeff Wadlow, Screenplay by Jeff Wadlow, Eric Heisserer, based on the Valiant comic book by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin, Bob Layton. Cinematography by Jacques Jouffret. Produced by Toby Jaffe, Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz, Dinesh Shamdasani. Music by Steve Jablonsky. Production Design by Tom Brown. Costume Design by Kimberly A. Tillman. Film Editing by Jim May.
Vin Diesel is enjoying a beautiful, romantic life with his gorgeous wife when the both of them are taken hostage by a villain and she is killed before his eyes. He is shot in the head, which should be game over except that it leads to the opening credits, after which he wakes up in a science lab and is told that he has been put back together as part of a program to create immortal supersoldiers. His blood is now teeming with nano-robots that heal him whenever he is wounded thanks to the genius of mad scientist Guy Pearce, who has created a magnificent technology that has restored everyone around him to full functionality, from his own missing arm to Sam Heughan‘s missing legs and Eiza González‘s inability to breathe through her own lungs. Memory flashbacks kick in and Diesel remembers his personal tragedy, breaking out of the laboratory compound and heading towards the man who killed his wife. After exacting his revenge, he comes back ready for to do Pearce’s bidding, which is where the audience is treated to a surprise twist: everything is not exactly as it seems, but I don’t want to ruin it for you. Once Diesel puts it together that he’s the pawn in someone else’s bid to take advantage of the system, he begins to fight back against the people that he believed were his team, which is when the plot that has been mashing up Frankenstein and Robocop starts to go towards Memento and Le Samourai. Unlike all of those stories, however, this one only has an imaginative premise, the execution is dull and Diesel is, as always, terrified to show us that he might ever have a good time doing anything. Heughan is playing an idea of an American action figure that is never convincing, and director Dave Wilson wastes the wonders of a great deal of terrific visual effects in telling a story whose preposterous concept should have made for something far more indulgent than what we have here.