While it takes the time worn concept of a spouse desperately searching for a missing loved one to no new heights, the action thriller In the Blood at least makes a case for Gina Caranao’s status as a leading actor both inside and outside the genre. It’s essentially the same kind of role that Harrison Ford played throughout the late 80s and early 90s, which means John Stockwell’s work here doesn’t require a huge degree of difficulty, but Carano has an assertiveness and charisma that proves her work in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire wasn’t a fluke. This film isn’t better than that one, but at least her acting chops have progressed to a higher level since then.
Carano stars as Ava, a newlywed on vacation with her husband (Cam Gigandet) on a non-descript Caribbean island. Following a zip line mishap that was actually a set up for a kidnapping, Ava has to seek out her missing husband with no help whatsoever from the crooked local sheriff (Luis Guzman). Thankfully, Ava was raised to be a hardened badass capable of dispensing her own special brand of justice to anyone and everyone who gets in her way.
If there’s a major problem with In the Blood, it’s that Stockwell (Blue Crush, Into the Blue) takes forever to get to the good stuff. While most films of this nature would get straight to the kidnapping and run with the action and beatdowns, Stockwell seems content to play out a relationship that isn’t all that interesting in almost painful detail. It’s not that Carano’s chemistry isn’t bad, but that their entire relationship is arbitrary. It’s the kind character details that won’t matter one iota by the halfway point of the film, so it’s almost not worth bothering.
It’s good then that Stockwell has Carano anchoring his film. Even in the sequences that sometimes put a strain on her as yet untested acting ability, Carano proves to be a game, sympathetic, and strong hero for the audience to rally behind (even if her backstory is somewhat the result of an abusive childhood, adding an uneasy kind of subtext). She’s great at portraying someone emotional enough to cry to a complete stranger one moment before turning a switch and becoming a cold blooded messenger of vengeance. It’s a film that’s clearly suited to her strong suits, but it works since it’s doubtful many other actors – male or female – could have done much better in the role. It helps that she gets some nice support from the likes of Amauray Nolasco’s memorable villain, Treat Williams as Eva’s sneering, douchy, and doubtful father-in-law, and a minor appearance from Danny Trejo as a local tough guy.
In the Blood builds to an odd, but strangely plausible twist that sends things out on a high note. The nifty hook in the final third to show why Ava’s husband was kidnapped in the first place makes up for the plodding first 30 minutes that’s about as dull as watching a friend’s home movies. It’s fine, if somewhat disposable matinee fare.