Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Gina Carano administers the tropical beatdowns of In The Blood

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John Stockwell, the Jimmy Buffett of B-movies, tries his hand at the missing-person thriller with In The Blood, yielding mixed results. Though the movie benefits from the credible presence of MMA fighter Gina Carano (Haywire) in the lead and a rogues’ gallery of character actors in the supporting cast, Stockwell never manages to balance his affection for the Caribbean setting with suspense. Like the actor-turned-director’s other hemp-necklace genre flicks (Into The BlueTuristasDark Tide), In The Blood plays like demented cruise-commercial fan fiction. Sunny scenes of beaches, zip lines, and jet-ski rides awkwardly give way to murky violence and a title-explaining backstory so silly one can’t help but imagine it being pitched in the voice of Donald Kaufman.

Carano and Cam Gigandet star as Ava and Derek Grant, a couple of ex-junkies who met in rehab and are now enjoying a sober luxury honeymoon in the Caribbean. Derek breaks his leg during an outing, but disappears on the way to the hospital. Ava suspects that a local criminal named Big Biz (Danny Trejo) might be involved, but can’t get local police chief Garza (Luis Guzmán) to take her seriously. None of the witnesses will admit to having seen Derek or Ava before, and the ambulance service has no record of their call. Derek’s father (Treat Williams) regards her story with suspicion, leading Ava—who has what they call a “dark past”—to undertake the investigation on her own. Her method consists mostly of putting people in headlocks. This is something Carano does very well, and Stockwell films it from angles that put her butt and thighs center-frame, giving the shaky fight sequences a fetishistic R. Crumb vibe.

Stockwell likes blue skies, surf, nightlife, and beautiful women in bikini bottoms. As the plot takes the movie further and further away from the beaches and nightclubs—and requires Carano to don more and more clothing—one can feel his interest slipping. The film’s best fight scene is its first, a nightclub brawl that finds Carano taking on a crowd of people. (Unsurprisingly, the crowd includes several women whose short skirts have a tendency to flip up.) Another early scene manages to build mild suspense out of GoPro footage of Ava, Derek, and a friendly local taking turns on a zip line. However, by the time the movie gets to its rushed, ludicrous big reveal—set in a white, fluorescent-lit, very un-beach-like room, with Ava covered from head to toe in surgical scrubs—Stockwell seems to have grown fidgety and bored with the material. Presumably, so will any potential viewer.