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  In the Blood Who's Meaner Than Gina?
Year: 2014
Director: John Stockwell
Stars: Gina Carano, Cam Gigandet, Danny Trejo, Luis Guzmán, Stephen Lang, Amaury Nolasco, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Treat Williams, Yvette Yates, Eloise Mumford, Ben Bray, Pablo Cunqueiro, Raul Alocer, Hannah Cowley, Paloma Louvat, Oscar H. Guerrero, Jaunchy Capella
Genre: Drama, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ava Grant (Gina Carano) has a troubled past which involved watching the father (Stephen Lang) who trained her to be an expert fighter in hand to hand combat gunned down in their own home when she was a teenager; upon witnessing this she turned the tables on the hoodlums and murdered them in cold blood. But let us turn to happier times as she has just been married to Derek (Cam Gigandet), who had such faith in his new bride that he opted not to sign a pre-nuptual agreement as his father (Treat Williams) recommended. It's all going very well as they head off to their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, but what they don't know is that their bond will be severely tested by outside forces...

After a high profile career as a mixed martial arts fighter, it was perhaps inevitable with her robust good looks that Gina Carano would make the move to the cinema as an action star, and it was Steven Soderbergh who gave her that chance by casting her in his action flick Haywire where she shared the screen with a host of guest stars. It wasn't much of a hit with audiences on its initial release, but went on to win cult success in what was perhaps its more natural residence, home video where the viewer could enjoy the ass-kicking over the beverage and snack of their choice with a few select companions should they so choose. After that she was cast in Fast & Furious 6 as part of another ensemble.

That was a major hit, but with her next outing In the Blood she may have been in a starring role, but the profile was a lot lower. The director was John Stockwell who had made his name as an actor, then at the helm of a bunch of slick, stylish but rather substance-free thrillers and dramas where the most you would hope for was that they would look very good indeed, but even he was working on a lower budget these days instead of at the controls of a superhero movie that could really have done with his keen eye for an attractive shot. In this case he was evidently still geared to capturing a striking image, with much use of small, mobile cameras for such sequences as the big chases or the one where Derek travels on a zip wire over a huge valley.

This is his downfall - literally, as his harness has been tampered with and he is sent tumbling to the ground below. A horrified Ava gets the supervisor to call an ambulance, but when it arrives she is told for insurance purposes she cannot ride in the back of the vehicle and must follow on behind, which is where she manages to lose the ambulance and indeed her husband. What follows is reminscent of the cult mystery of many years before So Long at the Fair, itself based on an item of urban folklore as Ava tries to track down her spouse only to be told at every turn he doesn't exist and nobody knows what she's on about. Envisage a kickboxing Jean Simmons and you have some notion of what Carano was essaying here, only to ensure she got into altercations her character was considerably more psychopathic.

Also appearing were an inevitable Danny Trejo as a local Mr Big, though that was all that was big about the role as he showed up near the start to harrass Ava at a nightclub then disappeared from the plot until the very end to wrap things up. Luis Guzmán as the police chief who is no help to our heroine had more to do, though with an odd lack of personality until his big scene in his daughter's bedroom as Ava holds a knife to the slumbering moppet to emphasise she is determined to get her way. No namby-pamby courses of action for her, she's not going to ask the American embassy for help, nope, she's going to bump off as many of the conspirators in her path as possible, which to be fair does not make for the most believeable of stories, but then when did movies like this ever need to be when all you wanted to see was Gina handing over bottoms for ninety minutes? Yes, it was pretty silly, and took more time over its set up than was strictly necessary, but when Stockwell wound up his leading lady and let her go, she may not have been a great actress but did have presence. Music by Paul Haslinger.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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