Back in the 1980s, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone or Bruce Willis normally filled the action hero roles and then Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal took up the torch in the 1990s.
The quality of their films ranged from being genre-defining to passable entertaining distractions judged on a curve since they were typically just vehicles to showcase the stars’ fighting prowess.
“In the Blood” is a throwback to that era where plot and acting take a backseat to a kick-tail protagonist stopping anyone that gets in their way. And with Gina Carano as said butt-kicker, it’s a lot of fun despite its flaws.
Ava (Carano, “Fast and Furious 6”) and her husband, Derek (Cam Gigandet), are enjoying their Caribbean honeymoon when he goes missing.
After getting nowhere with the hospital staff or the less than helpful Police Chief Ramon Garza (Luis Guzman, “The Last Stand”), Ava begins her own investigation. It’s not long before Ava finds herself battling a number of goons including the shady Big Biz (Danny Trejo) and the slick-talking Silvio (Amaury Nolasco) as she gets closer to finding out what happened to Derek.
Like a typical 80s/90s action film, don’t expect much by way of plot.
The script, by James Robert Johnston and Bennett Yellin, lacks any real twists or surprises. Most of the characters are as exactly as suspicious as they initially appear.
The one extra subplot featuring Ava’s new father-in-law (Treat Williams), who assumes she had something to do with his son’s disappearance seems out of place and unnecessary.
It’s a refreshing change to see the more than capable female being the one having to rescue the guy in a switch from the Liam Neeson “Taken” formula.
While not exactly reinventing the genre, Director John Stockwell (“Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden”) tries to set up the drama a bit before letting Carano loose.
It’s a worthy effort, but with a talent like Carano, audiences are fine just watching her kick tail and once Stockwell lets her loose, the film finds its footing and becomes pretty fun.
Carano is still trying to pin down this acting thing as easily as knocking out opponents in MMA circles, but she has already has a commanding onscreen presence and she appears to be getting more comfortable with each role. There’s a marked improvement from her first starring role back in 2011 with Stephen Soderbergh’s “Haywire.” While still developing as an actress, Carano hasn’t peaked yet so she’s already surpassed Van Damme and Seagal in that regard and I still think she would be the ideal Wonder Woman in a DC movie.
Filmed for a reported $10 million, Stockwell shows a not so tourist-friendly side of the Caribbean underground scene and is a bit too gimmicky with camera tricks like a helmet cam to give the film a more realistic feel. Unfortunately, it comes across more like a low-budget B-movie instead.
“In the Blood” doesn’t really do a lot of things new and is perfect for its Video On Demand format. It gives Carano another platform to show off her skills and with such a unique, promising talent watching her develop is always a treat. Go in knowing the film will deliver on butt-kicking Carano, but not much else and you’ll be perfectly satisfied.
Rating: 6 out of 10