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MMA star Gina Carano (Haywire, Fast and Furious 6) stars as Ava, a trained fighter with a dark past in this intense action/thriller from director John Stockwell (Blue Crush, Crazy/Beautiful). When her new husband (Cam Gigandet, Twilight) vanishes during their Caribbean honeymoon, Ava uncovers a violent underworld of conspiracy in the middle of an island paradise. Armed with a deadly set of skills, Ava sets out to discover the truth and to take down the men she thinks are responsible for her husband's abduction, one by one. Ismael Cruz Cordova (The Good Wife), Luis Guzmán (Traffic), Treat Williams (Chicago Fire), Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break), Stephen Lang (Avatar) and Danny Trejo (Machete) co-star. Written by James Robert Johnston and Bennett Yellin.
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but still ... carano and statham, romancing and fighting, each other and the bad guys ... now there's an action film with some sizzle.
Derek and Ava, two ex-junkies in love. Derek (Cam Gigandet) and Ava (Carano) met in rehab and bonded and here they are now honeymooning on an island just off the coast of Puerto Rico. Derek comes from wealth and entitlement but he loves his bride, to the extent that he's told off his dad (Treat Williams) who suspects Ava of mooching off the family fortune. Ava's survived a nightmarish upbringing in which she was tortured and taught to fight by her lunatic father (Stephen Lang).
It's gotten so I don't want to holiday overseas anymore. How many terror tales have you heard where Americans travel to some exotic place and get their crap abducted or tortured or other horrible things? On the island the newlyweds are approached by a sociable local and are talked into a ziplining expedition in the rainforest. Suspended hundreds of feet above, Derek falls and sustains serious injuries. And I don't know about you, but when the medical response team refuses to allow a relative to ride in the ambulance, the needle leaps to the red on my W.T.F. gauge. Ava is forced to trail along, but when she arrives at the hospital half an hour later, no one had seen her husband.
I like that Ava doesn't immediately launch into asskicking mode. She does the logical if torturous thing. She visits all the hospitals and clinics. She goes to the police. She revisits the ziplining site. And when all that proves fruitless, THEN she goes bananas. In a movie that's full of silly and wack, it's nice that some p's and q's are minded. Think of Liam Neeson's Taken, only gender reversed. In the Blood is Gina's nabbing her second lead role (after Haywire), and it's a step back. Think what you will of Haywire - folks have dumped on it - but that was a Steven Soderbergh production. In the Blood is strictly B-flick escapism that's eventually sunk by sad production values and poor choices by director John Stockwell. I can put a finger on two positives: Gina Carano still has those all-purpose beatdown skills and Luis Guzmán (the police chief) and Amaury Nolasco (the big bad) are wonderfully sleazy.
Liam Neeson made this such a boss premise. Gina just doesn't have Neeson's acting chops, even though she tries hard. But she only ever seems natural when she's digging an elbow into someone's floating ribs. As for other faults in the flick, I've a bunch in random order:
- I don't believe even Gina Carano is so badass she can cut a bloody swathe across the island barrios while in flip flops.
- One goon is shot a full dose of an anesthesia (Propofol) that completely wears off in minutes.
- Same guy gets a bullet in the leg but is running around with no limp minutes later.
- I know they needed to set up why Ava can fight so well, but those flashbacks of her dad training her are simply unwatchable, mostly because those scenes are poorly done and require more context. Was her dad just batsh-- crazy or was there actual method to his madness?
- One flashback I could've done with is a scene of Derek and Ava meeting in rehab.
- It's a bit ridiculous that Derek's family would show up at the island but then take off after only a few days and with Derek still missing.
I originally had the randomness of the reason for Derek's abduction on that above list, but, on second thought, it's sort of neat that they would throw that in there. It's one moment of straying from routine plotting.
Basically, the film wastes too much time with scenes of Carano not clobbering dudes. The delivery of her fight scenes could've been more expertly staged. Some of the action suffers from excessive cutting and, in the case of the dance club brawl, extreme strobing. Still, Gina remains a convincing physical presence. You believe that she CAN take out those burly hombres. I love that sequence when a handcuffed Ava must escape during an escorted bathroom visit while on the ferry. What else? Danny Trejo is wasted, but I enjoyed the character arc of Manny (Ismael Cruz Cordova), the sociable local who invited Ava and Derek to go ziplining. Another thing they get right is that teenage flashback Ava (Paloma Olympia Louvat) bears a good likeness to Carano. I never did get what I wanted to see most in the film: the payoff of Ava giving her disapproving father-in-law his painful comeuppance. Treat Williams, you got off lucky.