20th Apr2014

‘In the Blood’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Gina Carano, Cam Gigandet, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Luis Guzman, Amaury Nolasco, Danny Trejo | Written by James Robert Johnston, Bennett Yellin | Directed by John Stockwell

in-the-blood-carano

Former MMA star Gina Carano, who rose to fame following her starring role in Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 action-thriller film Haywire – although she had previously appeared in low-budget actioner Blood and Bone alongside Michael Jai White – returns to the action genre, and a leading role, with In the Blood, the latest film from actor/director John Stockwell (Cheaters, Crazy/Beautiful).

In the Blood sees Ava (Carano) and Derek (Gigandet), a newly married couple, honeymooning in the Caribbean who are befriended by a local hustler, Manny (Cordova), who talks them into going to a night club where they get into a fight with the locals. The next day, whilst out zip-lining with Manny, Derek gets into an accident and is taken to hospital. However when Ava shows up looking for her husband, he’s nowhere to be found and the hospital staff claim he was never admitted… Disconcerted by the lack of police interest in her plight, Ava goes on a mission to find her husband no matter the cost, even if that means she (literally) butts heads with the local federales and their chief Ramon Garza (Guzman), and crime boss Silvio Lugo (Nolasco).

Making the most of her extensive fight background Carano really mixes things up on screen, from traditional MMA techniques to extensive gunplay and general all-round badassery. Much like Liam Neeson’s character in Taken (a film this movie shares a number of similarities with) we know Ava is much more than a former drug addict thrust into an uncontrollable situation – especially given the bizarre flashbacks to Ava’s childhood and her survivalist father played by Stephen Lang at his most over the top – only the bad guys in the film don’t, so it’s very satisfying to see Ava take out her “frustrations” on those that have wronged her.

But it’s not only Carano who mixes things up in this film. Director John Stockwell really loves to mix things up behind the camera too, using a myriad of different cameras and shooting styles – including camera phones, GoPro’s and even security camera footage. This combination of styles really brings a high impact, down and dirty feel to proceedings, which is perfect given the films subject matter and locale. Stockwell also manages to get the most out of Gina Carano, whose acting (at least in my opinion) has come on leaps and bounds since starring in Soderbergh’s Haywire. Not only is she the quintessential badass, butt-kicking heroine but she also has a charm and certain naivety that makes her character, at least in this case, all the more authentic.

If I had one qualm with In the Blood it’s the relationship between Derek and Ava could have been given more meat on its bones, as it stands all we know is that they met in rehab/counselling and “really love each other.” A little more depth to their realtionship would have made Ava’s quest for justice much more believable. Plus I personally would have liked to see some more of Danny Trejo’s island kingpin Big Biz…

In the Blood is out now via VOD in the US. The film is released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on June 2nd courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

**** 4/5

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