Article By: Dan Clark
In 2011 Steven Soderbergh attempted to make MMA fighting star Gina Carano into a bona fide actress in the film Haywire. In the end the results were mixed, but Carano did show some glimmers of potential. Besides a few minor roles in television and Fast & Furious 6 she has yet to try and prove herself as a legit action star—until now.
Her latest film In the Blood sees her once again as the primary focus, and she brings the physicality you would expect from a trained fighter. However, this time she does not have a director the caliber of Steven Soderbergh behind her. A person who knows how to properly use her inherit talent and camouflage her known weaknesses. Without that we get a movie that hinges too heavily on her flat performance and wastes her strengths with lackluster action scenes. In the Blood comes off as a cheap stunt that feels more like a mid-90’s TV pilot than an actual cinematic movie. If Carano wants to be treated seriously as an action star she needs to pick material far better than this uninspired rubbish.
In the film Carano plays Ava, a woman who has had a rough go of it for the majority of her life. Her father trained her to fight, survive, and not to trust anyone. Her life has been a hard one, but it appears she has finally found her silver lining as she is soon to marry the man who has changed her life for the better Derek Grant (Cam Gigandet). Things begin to start smoothly on their romantic Caribbean honeymoon. Life for once is at peace. That changes after her husband has a horrific accident on a zip line. It only gets worse when her husband goes missing. The hospital cannot find him and the police refuse to help her. Fearing a conspiracy she sets off to find the person responsible and save her husband before it is too late.
From the beginning the film feels like the typical action flair you would get from classic 80’s action films. Where you have a plot with a sophomoric setup, which is more of an excuse for action than an attempt to develop a narrative. To this films credit it at least tries to establish an actual story. It spends a great deal of time showcasing the relationship between Ava and Derek. In a montage that would make any eHarmony commercial proud we see them displaying love on their honeymoon. Not only are these moments littered with tired clichés they do nothing to make the relationship believable, because Carano and Gigandet are void of chemistry. The entire film is based upon the legitimacy of this relationship, and it feels like they both met hours before shooting began.
In Haywire Carano was surrounded by talented actors who could do most of the heavy lifting. Here the most notable star is Danny Trejo, who shows up for a glorified cameo. At this point Carano does not have the range to make a part like this work. Watching her try to emote heartache and fear over the disappearance of her husband was uncomfortable to witness. Part of the fault lies with the director John Stockwell. Far too much time was spent fixating on her emotional state long after the point was made.
Obviously when it comes to films of this nature people can forgive poor acting and questionable plot choices as long as the action works. Unfortunately even that action left a lot to be desired. Never did it give Carano an opportunity to display her talents properly. A night club brawl was so poorly staged it was like it was being shot by a random person with a cell phone camera. Never is theatricality added to make these moments more cinematic. A towering stunt atop a zip line is impressively constructed, but it doesn’t do any with that construction to add any excitement.
Perhaps the biggest issue is the lack of action. The majority of time is spent with Carano traveling around the island trying to solve this puzzling mystery. Plenty of red herrings are given, none of which are all that compelling. When the answer does come it is so out of left field it has little impact. It was just further evidence of the pointless quality that dominated most of the film.
In the Blood reaches for mediocrity and falls to accomplish that. This action film has little action, and what is there is not worth your time. Gina Carano may still have an acting career in front of her, but this is one she will certainly like to forget. If anything the greatest thing In the Blood accomplishes is making you appreciate Haywire even more.