Review: In the Blood
PLOT: When her husband goes missing on their Caribbean honeymoon, new bride Ava (Gina Carano) tears apart their island hideaway, trying to get to the bottom of his disappearance. In her search she runs afoul of crooked cops, drug lords and more. Lucky for her, and unfortunately for them, shes been well-trained in combat by her late survivalist father (Stephen Lang) and has no qualms about killing anyone who gets in her way.
REVIEW: Remember how after DIE HARD, we had tons of clones hoping to recapture its magic? There was DIE HARD on a bus (SPEED awesome), DIE HARD on a ship (UNDER SIEGE pretty good), etc. It got so crazy that even the knock-offs were getting knock-offs (anyone remember CHILL FACTOR? Or rather SPEED in an ice-cream truck?). With TAKEN being the influential action blockbuster of the moment, weve been bombarded with movies trying to ape that movies success (with maybe Nicholas Cages STOLEN being the most blatant). IN THE BLOOD is another one of those.
The only thing that keeps it from feeling too derivative is that in this case rather than an aged action hero trying to find his daughter we have a gorgeous young woman trying to find her husband. Ever since HAYWIRE, fans of MMA champ Gina Caranos have been waiting for a worthy follow-up. While Carano gets more to do here than she did in her tiny part in FAST & FURIOUS 6, it cant be denied this is a pretty low-brow affair, and not much better than the typical DTV actioner.
While shes undeniably limited as an actress, Carano has a great action-heroine physique and look. Heres a beautiful woman thats overtly feminine, but also undeniably a badass who can easily best anyone who makes the mistake of taking her on. While the action is on a far less ambitious or stylish scale here than it was in HAYWIRE, when Caranos doing her thing, you cant take your eyes off her. An early brawl, where she decimates a club full of gangsters after Danny Trejo takes offense to her rejecting his advances, is a fun spin on a typical action beat. How often has the heros girlfriend been the object of some thugs advances, only to have the hero teach him a thing or two about chivalry? Here, Cam Gigandet who plays her hubby is perfectly happy to stand off to the side while she fends for herself. This is one gal that doesnt need anyone to rescue her.
The problem is that Caranos almost too invincible. Theres never a point where it feel like shes in any danger from any of the anonymous thugs who try to fight her. IN THE BLOOD could have used a strong adversary, but the name actors playing the baddies are mostly regulated to bit parts. Trejo only has a glorified cameo, while Luis Guzman as the stereotypically crooked cop isnt enough of a threat. The film finally gets some much needed menace from PRISON BREAKs Amaury Nolasco, but by the time he finally shows up the movie is just about over.
As such, IN THE BLOOD is little more than a bunch of generic action scenes strung together. The only thing the movie really has going for it other than Carano is the sharp location shooting in Puerto Rico by director John Stockwell. The most memorable shot sees Carano take a baddie on a harrowing zip-line ride, and Stockwell makes the most of it. Its also cool that the final showdown takes place in a shantytown packed with locals, giving the film a gritty vibe it hadnt had up to that point.
While its marginally better than the typical DTV movie starring new stalwarts of the genre like Steve Austin or Randy Couture, IN THE BLOOD is still essentially a b-movie, although it probably wouldnt make for a bad Netflix viewing on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Hopefully Carano will get the opportunity to do another HAYWRIRE style actioner. If she had come along during a better time for down-and-dirty action movies (late eighties/early nineties) shed be a superstar.