When Judge David Johnson gets into your blood, you better watch out. He itches.
Hit like a girl.
MMA champ Gina Carano has done some damage in small roles and has even been tasked with carrying her own action picture in Haywire, but she hasn't quite taken off as a legit female action star. Can In the Blood change that?
Facts of the Case
Carano is Ava, a young woman with a sordid past but a bright future, growing up in the dangerous surroundings and taught to defend herself by her lantern-jawed father (Stephen Lang, Avatar). She leaves all that behind and finds the man of her dreams, the amiable Derek (Cam Gigandet), a man from a wealthy family. Though his parents distrust her intentions, Ava is head-over-heels for her beau and following the happy couple's wedding, they jet-set to the Caribbean. The erotic mirth doesn't last long: Derek vanishes and no one appears willing or able to help Ava find him. So she taps into her brutal past and uncorks some punishment, determined to bring him back herself.
I like Gina Carano. I think she has a lot to offer for action film fans and is one of the few female cinematic pugilists that I can totally buy as being able to beat grown adult men into tomato paste. I'm not sure if that makes me sexist or anything (I've lost track of what is or is not frowned upon), but I'd be lying if I said the lady brawlers I've seen on film were convincing. Note, I'm not talking about heroines in action films because, as we all know, Ellen Ripley takes a back seat to no one. It's the actresses placed into hand-to-hand combat situations that are just hard to believe. Halle Berry? Angelina Jolie? Keira Knightley? Zoe Saldana? Lovely, talented performers, all of them, but it's a stretch buying them as destroyers of men. And as the eternal, patronizing cop-out, these female actionistas invariably get matched up with their evil female counterpart, while the dudes run around and pound each other elsewhere.
All that to say: Gina Carano I can totally buy. Her skills are apparent and as comely as she may be, she's pretty much built like a Broncos linebacker. When she throws down, I feel the punches, the leg sweeps, the arm bars, the whole buffet of violence and she earns it all. There is fight choreography of course, but it never seems like her opponents are taking a dive or the editing is a crutch. Granted, she's not the most charismatic actor, when it's time to unleash hell, Carano can deal it out with any of them.
So it's a bummer that she toils in what is ultimately a missed opportunity to showcase her juice. In the Blood starts out promising, establishing the likability of our heroes before the inevitable injustice befalls them. It's the ensuing hunt that leaks helium. It seems Ava is constantly getting caught and having to incapacitate police officials to keep up the search (actions that are apparently not entirely frowned upon by the authorities). She bounces around and eventually stumbles on the point of the kidnapping plot; I won't spoil it, but it is underwhelming.
As clunky as the story is, my biggest lamentation is reserved for the lack of fighting. Carano deserves way more burn that's given here, with no fight standing out. The set-ups are brief, often happen in the dark and fail let he use her genuine skills to wow the audience. There is hard-R smiting here (some guy's forehead gets impaled with a shovel), but the build-up to these finishers are forgettable. What you end up with: a weirdo narrative, anchored by a bad-ass heroine, who for some reason doesn't get enough opportunities to showcase her fighting skills. Bummer.
The Blu-ray: a solid 1.85:1, 1080p transfer benefits greatly from the sun-blasted Caribbean setting (and not so much from the grainy night urban scenes) and is joined by an effective Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround mix. The only extra is a standard-issue behind-the-scene featurette where everyone talks about how much they like working with each other.
Gina Carano is a force of nature. This movie…isn't.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
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