Gina Carano made waves with one of her first, big screen performances in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, an fairly routine but, never the less, fun action spy film. She had been in one TV series in 2006 called Fight Girls (later titled Ring Girls, for whatever reason) and then moved on to films with Blood and Bone. Haywire was her first performance as a lead and she was terrific. The film was fun and it never hurts to make a film with Steven Soderbergh at the helm. In 2013, she hit another grand slam with a large supporting role in Fast and Furious 6. With her latest film, In The Blood, she travels some familiar territory, but with a little less enjoyment. Mind you, it is not a bad film but disappointing. But it is not because of Gina Carano. She is a revelation, regardless.
In The Blood is the story of a newlywed couple (Carano and Cam Gigandet), Ava and Derek, who are on a Caribbean honeymoon when Derek is injured zip lining. When the ambulance arrives and takes Derek to the local hospital he disappears. Ava searches high and low but with no success. She begins to believe there are nefarious forces at work, corrupt police, doctors and such, so she begins her own investigation. There are subplots involving Derek’s father who thinks that Ava is just trying to get into his wallet and Ava’s own horrific childhood with her father (Stephen Lang) who taught her to fight, defend herself and to never show mercy. These subplots explain the plot but seem to weigh the film down.
Actor turned director, John Stockwell has a flair for the visuals and exotic locales and Carano is very convincing as a young lady who has issues, but has battled to overcome them with some success. The problem is that, for a film like this, there has to be chemistry between the two stars and I just did not feel the love in their relationship. Carano is larger than life and is such a powerful force on screen that Gigandet seems to pale when compared to her and his character does not seem real enough for me to care if Ava ever found him, at all. They seem like a Hollywood couple who only exist in films like this, to serve as a plot device.
Now the action is well staged and Carano does not have to try too hard to sell it. She is commanding on screen whether she is punching someone’s teeth out or breaking down in tears because she has run out of places to search. Carano has the acting chops to do both well and shows she has range, but the screenplay by James Robert Johnson and Bennett Yellin doesn’t seem to strive to be anything other than a standard missing persons film. The drama is dry and uninvolving, for the most part, so it was hard to connect emotionally to woman who is searching for her missing husband.
The villains are bad enough but also seem to be retreads from other films, but former Tangerine Dream musician, Paul Haslinger has provided another powerful score. He has become the go to man as film score composer for most of John Stockwell’s films and has another winner here.
There is a lot to like here, and In The Blood provides some excitement, some tender moments but I could not help watching this film and thinking I should watch Haywire, again. It has many good elements, most notably Gina Carano who is destined to be a big star in films, and will entertain you to a point. But many good moments don’t add up to anything we have not seen before and better. You could do worse, but Haywire is the film to watch Carano shine.
In The Blood-**1/2 out of 4