IN THE BLOOD (NC16)
108 minutes/Opens tomorrow/**
The story: While honeymooning in the Caribbean, Derek (Cam Gigandet) has an accident on the zipline and is taken away in an ambulance. When he vanishes, his wife Ava (Gina Carano) has to figure out who took him and why. As the clock ticks, she has to battle uncooperative cops and vicious thugs in order to uncover the truth.
This is all of your nightmares about off-the-grid travel handily put together in one package.
Planning to head off somewhere without a guide? Just hoping to roll with it even though you do not understand the local patois? Going to make friends with the first person who speaks English to you? In The Blood will make you rethink your travel plans.
Ava does not speak Spanish and when trouble strikes, she finds herself in the frustrating situation of not being able to communicate the simplest things. Worse, the natives do not seem too friendly. When she is not being dismissed, she is being patronised.
And when she turns to the authorities, the cop in charge (Luis Guzman from Boogie Nights, 1997) is suspiciously disinterested.
Pushed to the brink, she finally goes it alone, extracting information from reluctant conspirators with her persuasive skill of unleashing violence.
This is where the film should kick into high gear, since it is a vehicle for mixed martial arts fighter Carano. She had previously starred in flicks such as Fast & Furious 6 (2013) and Haywire (2011).
But the fight scenes are a letdown as they do not convey the thrill of close-quarter combat. Despite this, the movie manages to be violent as well, particularly when Ava starts torturing people for information.
There are also time-wasting flashback scenes explaining how she came to possess her fighting skills and a red herring detour into a dark past which never surfaces in the present.
As the story gets more preposterous, what it sorely needs is some humour. But director John Stockwell (Blue Crush, 2002) takes it all so seriously.
After an over-long manhunt sequence at the end, scary-looking Danny Trejo (Machete Kills, 2013) unexpectedly steps in to save the day - for the sake of tourism of the island.
Now that was a sublimely ridiculous moment. Too bad In The Blood was not drenched in them.