Considering that In the Blood was scripted by James Robert Johnston (The Howling Reborn; Joy Ride 2) and Bennett Yellin (Dumb & Dumber films) plus directed by actor/director John Stockwell, you might be surprised at how competently structured it is, even as it operates solely on the fumes of generic derivatives, plumbing the depths of any number of B action film tropes. Cashing in on Gina Carano’s headlining presence, it can’t quite manage to escape feeling like the poor man’s version of Haywire 2, though an intriguing supporting cast distracts from the silliness of it all as it glides along to a truncated denouement.
Opening with Ava’s (Gina Carano) narration about how her father turned her into a brutal killing machine and how she remembered his death, a scene of brutal violence segues to 12 years later in Arlington, Virginia, where the now adult Ava is about to get married to her fiancé (Cam Gigandet). They met at Narcotics Anonymous, a fact that her father-in-law (Treat Williams) is none too happy about. A healthy glow remains steadfast as the couple journeys to the Caribbean for their honeymoon. A self-profess guide named Manny (Ismael Cruz Cordova) ingratiates himself upon the couple, promising them a fun night on the town before taking them ziplining in the morning. But a scrape with a dangerous thug at the club named Big Biz (Danny Trejo) results in Ava having to kick some ass, forcing them to flee the club. All seems well the next morning until her husband has an accident during the ziplining excursion, and the ambulance carrying him to the hospital disappears. Now, Ava is left on her own in Puerto Rico trying to figure out what happened, seeking help with the police in the form of Chief Ramon Garza (Luis Guzman). But all, of course, is not what it seems.
Gina Carano is clearly a talented action star presence, her sequences equaling her legion of male counterparts from numerous instances past. That said, emoting isn’t her strong point, and she strides through dialogue robotically, turning a handful of otherwise generic scenes into laughable stiltedness. But when she lets loose on a crowd of dummies, including instigator Danny Trejo, it’s certainly captivating to see, her only disserve in these instances being the incredibly cheap looking cinematography of P.J. Lopez.
What was so kinetic about watching Carano in Haywire was how every incredible fight sequence was meticulously documented. Here we get splices of cell phone footage and security camera points of view constantly interjecting, apparently trying to create a sort of flair, but instead generates shallow, cheap effects. Worse, she has to apologize for her behavior after saving herself and poor Cam Gigandet from the onslaught, as if to backslide into a more appropriately passive stance after showing him up.
Gigandet is on hand as a figure head only, abducted shortly after one of Stockwell’s customary montages of white people gallivanting through a lush, aquatic paradise (like we’ve seen again and again in Blue Crush; Into the Blue; Turistas), while we’re left solely with Carano, who disappears into flashbacks of her dad (Stephen Lang) and engages in tepid beefs with snarky father-in-law Treat Williams. When we get down to the final twist, which is the real evocation of the title, In the Blood dives head long into preposterous hyperdrive before we’re treated to one final shoot out and a slapdash resolution.