With the endless barrage of action films fighting for our attention these days, it’s rare to find one anchored by a woman. It’s even more rare to find a protag who continually ignores consequences in her search for vengeance, but real life Mixed Martial Arts champion Gina Carano is just that kind of leading lady. Whether it’s duking it out with underworld goons or raining down a world of pain on those who threaten her family — this is one violent femme on a mission.
Recovering drug addict Ava (Carano) escaped her troubled youth and married the man of her dreams (Cam Gigandet). They met in Narcotics Anonymous and have been each other’s backbone during their recovery, and now they’ve fallen deeply in love. While his father (Treat Williams) assumes Ava is using Cam for all his money, Gigandet’s character marries her anyway and the two newlyweds set out on their honeymoon in the Caribbean.
Zip lining during the adventurous paradise, it all seems like a blast until the Husband’s safety harness mysteriously breaks, and he plummets deep into unknown wilderness, nowhere to be found. The cops won’t help Ava, there’s no record of him in any of the local hospitals, and to make matters worse Chief Ramón Garza (Luis Guźman) wants her off the island – and muy pronto. Ava decides she’s going to find her husband against all hope, against the wishes of local authority, and she will break anyone who gets in her way. Oh yes, there will be blood.
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There’s more to Ava than meets the eye, however. A little flashback in this roaring rampage of revenge finds Ava fighting a horde of goons in a corrupt underworld. One thing these goons don’t know is that she had lethal training from her father, who taught her how to fight, never give up, and to always be the last woman standing.
A lot of asses get kicked, a lot of bones get broken, and while this brutal white-knuckle adventure sounds pretty awesome, there’s a few missing key elements that are needed to make the film work as a whole. The biggest misstep: acting. Despite having a lead that can fend for herself, and a fun ensemble of co-stars, “In the Blood”runs dry. Director John Stockwell seems to have spent the majority of his time focused on action sequences instead of working with his actors, and it feels as if he pushed his cast in front of the camera and shouted, “1, 2, 3 ACT!” without much direction.
Carano previously starred in Steven Soderbergh’s “Haywire,” saddled with a rep as a bad actress, but in truth, she did remarkably well with what she was given. She’s beautiful, graceful with her combat skills and has a natural on-screen presence that shines. With proper direction and the right role, she can shine. Unfortunately, with “In the Blood,” she could have gone to lunch and used a cardboard stand-in and nobody would have noticed. Alas, she’s only as good as her director and supporting cast, both of which failed her.
Carano’s adept ability to hold a scene comes in her remarkable fighting ability, and scene after scene proves her talent and skill. “In the Blood” will appeal to fans of “Taken” — a lone warrior with a set of skills who tears apart a foreign lands to find a loved one. Justice is served, but at a very bloody price. [C+]