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'In the Blood' review: Punta Cana action flick is no cinematic vacation

Ava(Gina Carano) tries to get the local sheriff(Luis Guzman) to take her claims of her missing husband seriously in "In the Blood."
Ava(Gina Carano) tries to get the local sheriff(Luis Guzman) to take her claims of her missing husband seriously in "In the Blood."
Anchor Bay Films

In the Blood

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In the Blood” is silly at its best and offensive at its worst. Gina Carano was right at home with the extensive collection of tough guys(and girls) in “Fast & Furious 6”, and while she had a front-and-center role in “Haywire”, she was surrounded by a really strong cast and directed by the legendary Steven Soderbergh. Here, the supporting cast isn't strong enough to flee some poor editing choices and even worse writing. And Carano can't merely let her martial arts do the talking this time around.

Carano plays Ava, and after a brief introduction the viewer finds her on her wedding day. As they talk before the wedding, it appears that Ava and her soon-to-be husband(Cam Gigandet) saved each other: he from his drug addiction, and her from her violent past. The couple flies off to Punta Cana, and after a somewhat lame montage of them frolicking both in the water and in the bedroom, they end up meeting Manny.

After a really awkward exchange(courtesy of the lousy screenplay), Manny convinces them they should come out to a nightclub, and after one of the club regulars(Danny Trejo) gets a little too touchy-feely with Ava, her husband tries to defend her and gets punched. This puts Ava on the offensive, and she ends up taking on half the dance floor by herself. Unfortunately, this draws the attention of the local island thug, and after an accident involving a zip line, Ava’s husband goes missing.

“In the Blood” could have been more fun, but its high level of brutality is somewhat of a turn-off. After Ava pummels a woman at the nightclub, she makes it a point to cut her face too. During the film’s climax, the camera seems to revel in a particular gory moment, and the viewer almost has to wonder when enough is enough. After Ava promises a quick death for one of the people that gets in her way, the viewer sees the bloody tracks of her shoes as she sneaks across the floor. Thankfully, the viewer catches a break and doesn’t have to witness that particular kill.

The film also takes time to flash back to Ava's time with her father. Apparently, he was some kind of roughneck, but it's never explained as to why he was always looking over his shoulder. He decided to instill such paranoia into his own daughter as well, teaching her to defend herself by brutally attacking her on a regular basis. These moments don't make a lot of sense as the background of Ava's father isn't really known, so they are merely discomforting detours. These scenes could have been trimmed out; at just ten minutes under the two-hour mark, the movie feels like it runs a little long anyhow.

“In the Blood” is directed by John Stockwell, who has a knack for shooting in tropical locations(he also directed “Blue Crush”, “Turistas” and “Into the Blue”). The zip line sequence is rather unsettling for anyone who doesn’t like heights; it is as impressive as it is nerve-wracking. The location is gorgeous, but it can’t make up for the dizzying action sequences, which require way too much editing and jump around far too much to have a lot of focus.

A real sense of fun is just one of the many things the screenplay is lacking. Its weak dialogue and timing can’t be saved by Carano; she’s just not that good of an actress. However, the script even has veterans like Treat Williams coming off awkward in his delivery. And it’s best to not ask logical questions, like why the bad guy would actually be coming after Ava and her husband if there’s never any direct conflict presented. Watching Carano kick butt isn’t nearly fun enough to make seeing this on the big screen worth it. It should be available on DVD and Blu-Ray for rental soon enough anyway, but even at that price, “In the Blood” would be a hard sell. This is probably up there on the list of the worst movies of 2014 so far.