- Movie Rating -

In the Blood (2014)

| March 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

In the Blood has nearly the same plot as the Liam Neeson thriller Taken but it is much easier to swallow.  Here again is another movie about someone who finds that their loved one has been kidnapped and must twist and turn into a seamy underworld to bring them back.  The difference between the two is that the earlier picture was purely a fantasy, a high-gloss Hollywood production while this one is shot more like a documentary.  It is by no means perfect, but you at least feel like you’ve entered into a very dark and dangerous world not a movie set.  You can believe what you’re seeing.

Directed by former teen actor John Stockwell, In the Blood stars real life mixed-martial arts champ Gina Carano as Ava who is on her honeymoon in the Caribbean with her new husband Derek (Cam Gigandet).  Stockwell’s skill in the early scenes is to capture the lush atmosphere of this island, with it’s palm trees, white sand beaches and perfect blue sky.  It all looks like an ad for a cruise line and we understand how the two lovers get caught up in it.

Then something happens.  At a nightclub, a small incident leads to a fight.  Ava mops the floor with three guys who are about to beat up Derek.  The next day, the couple go ziplining.  There’s an accident and Derek is injured.  An ambulance comes.  She is told that she cannot ride with him, so she is told the name of the hospital .  When she gets there, she is told that he never checked in.  Days go by and she finds nothing but we’re-doing-all-we-can kinds of interference.

Dealing with a hard-weathered police officer (played by the ever- reliable Luis Guzman) she is given the run-around.  The cops seem to be following the procedural pattern but are clearly dragging their feet.  So, she decides to do some digging herself.  Then follows a long, and quite dangerous, spiral into the dark underworld of the Latin American criminal underground in which Ava muscles and strong-arms one guy after another to get answers to Derek’s whereabouts, which is especially tough since the wall of resistance is held up by the likes of not only Luis Guzman, but Danny Trejo and Stephen Lang.

More of the plot cannot be revealed except to say that, unlike most thrillers of this type, we can actually believe what is happening.  Unlike Taken we can accept that Ava would be capable of twisting the arms of these grizzled tough guys.  She is played by Gina Carano, the mixed-martial arts champ who has previously appeared in Stephen Soderbergh’s Haywire and Fast and the Furious 6.  She’s no damsel in distress.  She has a tight body and a muscular structure that allows us to believe that she could survive in this environment.  She’s not your wimpy little heroine, but has a personality and a build that reminds us of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2.

If there’s a weakness in the film, it is that John Stockwell often stumbles on the realism.  He wants to invoke a kind of documentary feel, but his film givens in to the temptation of being slick where it should feel like raw footage.  That isn’t helped by the presence of wall to wall music, which, after a while, feels intrusive.  There are no quiet moments when we feel Ava’s desperation.  The ugliness of the underworld is presented with unsparing clarity, but the pacing is so manic you find yourself wishing that the movie would slow down for just a moment to kind of let the tension simmer.

Yet, this is probably the best film that Stockwell has made so far.  In the Blood, like most of his previous work indicates that he has a fascination with stories about American tourist pulled into the dark underbelly of Latin America.  He previously made Into the Blue, a remake of The Deep, about a group of tourist who find themselves in trouble over the cargo of down airplane.  And he made the silly horror adventure Turistas, about a group of tourists in Brazil who find themselves in trouble with members of an illegal organ transplant operation.  The plots are similar, but what is clear is that Stockwell is a competent director but not yet a great one.  Yet, in sense that with In the Blood, his work is improving.  It’s far from perfect but you get caught up in it.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.