In her second lead movie role, former mixed martial arts champion Gina Carano has a more traditional female part: a bride in distress. Yet Ava, the recovering druggie at the center of John Stockwell’s “In the Blood,” is not very different from Mallory, the betrayed secret agent Carano played in Steven Soderbergh’s 2012 thriller “Haywire.”
In fact, they’re essentially the same character.
Carano is once again the toughest person, female or male, in the place. This time, the place is a Caribbean island where Ava and Derek (Cam Gigandet) are honeymooning. After a zip-line mishap that may not be accidental, Derek is loaded into an ambulance and promptly disappears. Ava searches for him, doggedly and ruthlessly.
Any character played by a known actor is potentially the culprit: a pimp (Danny Trejo), the police chief (Luis Guzman), even Derek’s wealthy, mistrustful father (Treat Williams). Ava is prepared to use advanced interrogation techniques on them, although she stops short of waterboarding her father-in-law. When she doesn’t have a gun or a knife, a ballpoint pen will do.
The movie eventually offers a second meaning for its title. But all that really matters is that Ava makes a lot of bad guys bleed.
As is typical of the genre, the plot gets sillier as it unfolds, while the violence gets gnarlier. Ava sometimes takes a break from rescuing Derek to dispense vigilante justice. Luckily, she’s always right, not only about how to kill somebody, but also about which somebodies deserve to be killed.
Jenkins is a freelance writer.
★ ★ R. At AMC Hoffman Center 22. Contains graphic violence, including torture, and language. In English and Spanish with subtitles. 107 minutes.