Review: For Gina Carano, Fighting Bad Guys Is IN THE BLOOD
Survivors have scars. Losers have funerals.
That is an example of the sage advice that Ava's father, an outlaw in his own right -- played with the neck straining vigor that only Stephen Lang can deliver -- gave her as he raised her to be a gal who takes crap from no one. In The Blood catches up with Ava 12 years after her father's murder. She is marrying Derek, whom she met at a support group for substance abusers. Though Derek's father (Treat Williams) has concerns that Ava is marrying Derek for his money, Derek loves her and nothing his father says or does can change that.
Their honeymoon is going great, and then they meet one of the locals, Manny, who takes them out for a night on the town. There is an altercation with a local toughie (Danny Trejo in a bookend role as the island's pimp) and very early on we're given a dose of what Ava can do and how capable she is of looking after herself. The next day they all go ziplining, which is when Derek has a accident and has to be taken to a hospital. Ava loses track of the ambulance and when she finally arrives at the hospital her husband is supposed to be at, no one knows where he is.
The second act preys on the fears some may have of travelling in a foreign country. There is the language barrier, for one. Then a seeming lack of cooperation from officials. Ava goes to the police; Luis Guzman is the police chief. As they investigate Derek's disappearance, they get very little cooperation from the locals. Ava takes up her own investigation and her methods are ... abrasive. Starting with the drivers from the ambulance, she uncovers levels of corruption; it's a lengthy list of people paid off or held in debt for doing favors. There are further attempts on her own life from both sides of the law. She has to take justice into her own hands if she is to find her husband. And when she does, it starts to get violent.
The last half hour of In The Blood takes off as Ava and Derek try to escape his captors, and this is the true test of Ava's mettle. And she proves to be a force to be reckoned with as the chase moves from the hospital to the streets and ends with a tension filled house to house search in a barrio. There is more gun action than hand to hand action, though. Fans looking for more from Carano's MMA background may be disappointed in the end. But she proves to be one tough tamale dispatching bad guys, be it by gun or by fist.
Director John Stockwell is creative with his direction. He incorporates footage from personal digital cameras, GoPros, and closed circuit cameras to get specific angles and viewpoints to add style and energy into the mix. I'm not so convinced that he knows how to catch hand to hand, though, as any fighting that Carano partakes in is shot too close to appreciate the effort and edited quickly in a misguided attempt to create excitement. In such instances, style should have taken a back seat to substance.
But, there is no doubt about it. While a lot of Hollywood's leading ladies may play tough when it comes down to their holding their own, they would pale when face to face with Gina Carano. Carano is the real deal. She is a triple threat. She can fight. She can act well enough. She is beautiful. She is the complete package when it comes to what a female action star should be.
Carano's star continues to be on the rise and studio execs should be fighting each other to get her into their action projects.
The film opens in select U.S. theaters on Friday, April 4 (and here in Canada - April 24), and will also be available to watch via various Video On Demand platforms.
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