In The Blood is what it is. It’s straight-down-the-middle B-movie schlock. In this case, it’s easier to accept because of how many stunts made me giddily wince while I watched it. But, director John Stockwell shows audiences that action movies may not be his “thing”.
Former American Gladiator-turned-actress Gina Carano plays Ava, a newly married gal trying to find the whereabouts of her missing husband Derek (played by Cam Gigandet). While on their honeymoon, Derek disappears after a zip lining accident. The ambulance transporting Derek goes missing. After dealing with shady and stubborn police officers, Ava decides to take to the Caribbean coast to do the dirty work and investigating herself.
In The Blood has Carano doing what she does best. She punches and kicks her way through muscly lunks to get the answers she needs. Carano proves once again that she’s an ultimate bad ass who is able to deliver during forceful fights. She has a laudable presence during brawls and it’s a pleasure to watch her wipe the floor with an assortment of goons.
The action flick serves no harm nor foul. It’s not particularly great, but it’s able to keep you interested and fairly entertained from start to finish.
The film works best when it’s keeping matters simple. However, screenwriters James Robert Johnston and Bennett Yellin’s refuse to stick to a straightforward revenge yarn and instead elaborate on the plot. It’s a dicey move that the two have trouble escalating, leading In The Blood to farfetched conclusions.
What kills me is that In The Blood could’ve been more memorable. The main problem is that – aside from the clumsy script – Stockwell frequently stumbles with this particular genre. He knows the music, but he has difficulty playing the song.
It appears Stockwell has watched enough “rock ’em sock ’em” movies from the Luc Besson camp to realize how a mindless action film like this should play out. At times, In The Blood is a variation of Taken, but with a female lead.
Unfortunately, the filmmaker always finds a way to rob the audience of a satisfying good time. For instance, a fight scene may be well choreographed, but it’s hard to see through P.J. López’s darkly congested cinematography. It’s muggy camera work that Stockwell signed off on.
Other disjointed occurrences take place during more dramatically driven material. A scene featuring Carano watching her hubby plummet into the forest due to a faulty zip lining strap is devoid of any sadness or devastation. This scene sticks out as a sore thumb because of how pivotal it is, but – honestly – a lot of scenes featuring Ava being emotional end up ringing false. Part of this phoniness may be because Carano’s acting chops are still developing out of a touch-and-go phase, but it doesn’t appear as if she was correctly given the right motivations in the first place.
It also feels as if Stockwell is trying too hard to push certain emotional tones to cover up for the lack thereof in the characters. The romance between Gigandet and Carano is layered on with a lot of making-out and tantalizing shots of their hot Caribbean vacation. But, the audience has a hard time buying their relationship because their chemistry feels manufactured. The same mundaneness goes for the shallow crooks as well.
It’s also easy to see how cheap the production values get in the film. Normally, if the glue holding the film together is strong, the lower-end technicalities can be overlooked. It would take immaculate strokes to pass off In The Blood’s lame CG’d blood and bullet holes that have been slackly cooked up during post-production.
I thought I was sitting on the fence with Stockwell’s flick. It didn’t bother me, but it didn’t wow me either. When push comes to shove, I suppose my passiveness towards the tolerable aspects started to fold in when I dissect what I didn’t like about the movie.
John Stockwell’s film offers very little to recommend aside from Carano’s physical work. It just depends on how much mediocrity you’re willing to sit through to watch her slug some villains.