An obvious creation of the French screen-writer and producer Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”) and self-dubbed director Olivier Megaton (“Transporter 3”), “Colombiana” is an action packed, revenge-centric B-movie starring the gorgeous Zoe Saldana (“Takers”).
The film begins in Bogot? with young schoolgirl Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg in her debut feature film) witnessing her parents being brutally gunned down by local thugs sent by drug lord Don Luis (Beto Benites, “Hermano”). This moment sets up the film’s plot and reason for revenge, but also allows for an incredible chase scene showing off Cataleya’s almost infeasible yet beautiful parkour. The young girl makes a narrow escape by slipping through alleyways, bounding off rooftops and sliding into the sewer. After expelling a swallowed microchip passport and what seems to be a rather large breakfast onto an Embassy official’s desk, she finds herself on her way to safety, reuniting with her Uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis, “The Last Airbender”) in America.
Young Cataleya’s strong will and determination to take revenge on Don Luis and his band of murderers present themselves as she bluntly tells her uncle at breakfast “I want to be a killer” and proceeds to ask him to teach her how. He, just as blas?, replies “Sure.” The movie then cuts to Cataleya’s first day of school when her uncle explains to her that in order to be a killer she must receive an education first. He makes his point by pulling out a gun and shooting a car driving by multiple times. Considering the writer and director of the film, subtlety really isn’t to be expected.
The scene then cuts and transports the audience 15 years forward in time. Unfortunately, none of Cataleya’s childhood training is ever shown, but she must have done a pretty excellent job because the next time we see her played by Zoe Saldana, she’s a hired killer working for her uncle and performing ridiculously intelligent assassinations as well as slipping gracefully into the tightest places in scandalous body suits and skimpy outfits, which is all very Catwoman-meets-Laura Croft. Remember, no point in expecting subtlety.
As the film continues and bodies pile up it is clear Cataleya’s assassinations all connect to the murder of her parents, and each victim gets tagged with her signature, an orchid properly named Cataleya. This tag helps bring the plot together and attracts the attention of Don Luis and his sidekick Marco (Jordi Moll?), which was Cataleya’s brilliant plan all along.
Saldana’s seemingly flawless performance as a stone-cold killer showcases the actresses’ extraordinary ability to play an emotionless character who knows how to get the job done. Nevertheless, Saldana’s character does eventually break down, but, hey, she’s human, right? These few moments in the movie are very well done by Saldana and offer a break from the intense and cold Cataleya while allowing the audience to connect with her on an emotional level.
While the plot mostly consists of chase scenes, dead bodies and strategically placed bullets, love is also incorporated, as it is in most – if not all – action movies. Saldana’s on-screen lover boy, Danny, played by the real life hunk and ever-so-delicious Michael Vartan (of TV’s “Hawthorne”), gives Cataleya a reason to show her vulnerability while remaining in control. It also gives her a reason to strip down, pushing the movies’ PG-13 rating as far as it can go. These scenes are few and far between, but the actress’s enjoyment of lollipops, dancing in short shorts in her apartment and escapades wearing next to nothing fill in the gaps.
The revenge plot is rather over-used, and the action a bit unrealistic (scaling of walls and increasingly absurdly complex break-ins like swimming under a glass pool with sharks unharmed). Still, minus some small bits of bad acting, “Colombiana” is well done and amped up by Saldana’s great performance.
3 out of 5 Stars