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, she’s 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 it’s 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, we’ve been bombarded with movies trying to ape that movie’s success (with maybe Nicholas Cage’s 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 Carano’s 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 can’t be denied this is a pretty low-brow affair, and not much better than the typical DTV actioner.
While she’s undeniably limited as an actress, Carano has a great action-heroine physique and look. Here’s a beautiful woman that’s 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 Carano’s doing her thing, you can’t 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 hero’s girlfriend been the object of some thug’s 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 doesn’t need anyone to rescue her.
The problem is that Carano’s almost too invincible. There’s never a point where it feel like she’s 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 – isn’t enough of a threat. The film finally gets some much needed menace from PRISON BREAK’s 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. It’s also cool that the final showdown takes place in a shantytown packed with locals, giving the film a gritty vibe it hadn’t had up to that point.
While it’s 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 wouldn’t 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) she’d be a superstar.