IN THE BLOOD
*** (out of 5)
April 4, 2014
Gina Carano as AVA
Cam Gigandet as AVA’S HUSBAND
Danny Trejo as BOSS
Luis Guzmán as CHIEF RAMÓN GARZA
Stephen Lang as AVA’S FATHER
Studio: Anchor Bay
Directed by: John Stockwell
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
There’s a lot of appeal with Gina Carano. I can totally see why Hollywood is trying to give her an action career. She’s fit. She’s beautiful. She has a small talent for acting. In a business where only a handful of sports heroes – regardless of their sex – make it onto the big screen, she seems like an easy fit.
Unfortunately, Carano’s small talent for acting is what’s holding her back. It worked to her favor when she starred in “Haywire,” playing a cold-hearted assassin. Similarly, her turn in “Fast & Furious 6” was fine because we didn’t have to emotionally invest in her character. All she had to do was stand around and look attractive, then kick a whole lotta ass.
In spite of fighting kidnappers and corrupt cops in “In the Blood,” her biggest enemy is her own acting skill.
That’s not to say she’s terrible. Like I said, Carano has a small talent for acting. However, when handed heavy emotional scenes, it’s revealed that she is a fighter by trade and an actor on the side. She just doesn’t have the presence to carry the film through the emotional moments. As you’d expect from a fighter, she’s too guarded. She doesn’t have that emotional vulnerability that would make her a good hero.
Still, when she’s doing what she does best – which is kicking ass – the movie is pretty good.
The story follows Ava (Carano), who is honeymooning on a tropical island. After getting in an altercation in a bar, her husband (Cam Gigandet) is targeted by a crime boss. He is kidnapped, and the police are not helping Ava at all. She takes matters into her own hands and starts to track down her husband. A corrupt police chief (Luis Guzmán) tries to steer her clear and eventually tries to deport her, but Ava is too committed to finding her husband and rescuing him.
I may have come off a bit strong in this review at first. I didn’t dislike the movie because of Carano. In facet, I think she has the potential to be pretty good, and I give her a lot of credit for having the guts to take on a role that is more than just the heavy. However, she’s a bit out of her element in the emotional scenes. While there are only a few of these, this is where the movie drags a bit.
Once she gets on the warpath, things really look up. It’s no “Taken,” but it draws from the same emotional pool. The dedicated hero tracking down a loved one is an easy sell to a family man like myself, and it is in this second half of the film that Carano is doing what she does best.
The film is directed by John Stockwell, who gave us “Turistas” in 2006. Taken with “In the Blood,” he’s making a travelogue of horrible things that can happen to you on a tropical vacation, and this film has some similar elements, like a friendly stranger introducing the couple to their doom, exploring the seedy side of paradise and awful things happening to tourists abroad. Fortunately, “In the Blood” is more like the aforementioned “Taken” and less like “Hostel.” Still, it’s this ripped-from-the-headlines approach to the story that makes it hit home.
There are plenty of wrinkles and foibles throughout “In the Blood,” but it works for a somewhat disposable thriller as long as you’re not expecting anything beyond typical WWE-style acting.