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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 08.29.11] movie review news action

Year: 2011
Director: Olivier Megaton
Writers: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Shortly after it screened for critics last week, I saw a tweet about Colombiana which mentioned that everything is better when the French do it. I don't buy into that but I took it to mean that Olivier Megaton's movie wasn't great but had a little something, likely beyond Zoe Saldana, that made it worthwhile. I went, partly out of curiosity of what Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen had come up with this time around and also because I like Saldana plus having a female contract killer is, though not exactly new, un-common.

This adventure begins in Columbia with two men amicably ending what one can only assume is a shady business partnership. Things seem to go well until one of the men leaves and throws a fit saying they only have an hour to get to safe haven. He heads home, packs up the family but not in time. Bad men show up, kill the man and his wife leaving their pre-teen daughter alone. She takes the bad men on a chase through the streets of Bogota before finally getting away to the American Embassy where she delivers some information that buys her a trip to the USA. When she touches down in the land of the free, she escapes from custody and makes her way to Chicago where her uncle lives.

Flash forward 20 years and the young girl, named Cataleya, is a contract killer. Her uncle procures the jobs and she delivers but as of late, she's been leaving a message for the men who killed her family. She wants them to search for her so she can exact her revenge. Enter a bunch of drama, more deaths, a breakdown and then a re-build of resolve before the young woman accomplishes her goal.

The basics are all pretty common, Besson and Kamen aren't playing too far out of the cookie cutter as far as the basic plot semantics are concerned or even as far as Besson's previous work. This isn't the first time he's written a beautiful killing machine but it has been a while since his last offering. Colombiana fits that like a body suit: she's a perfectionist, a ruthless killer and she doesn't use sex or her good looks to get things done. This is purely a matter of skill and determination and she has both. There's also the audacity of the opening 20 minutes which pits a little girl against a crew of killers. It's crazy and completely unbelievable but also a load of fun – not to mention a nice poke at the bad guys who are outwitted by a little girl.

Saldana is great as Cataleya, the character is smart and determined and I had no issues believing that she was able and willing to kill whoever necessary to get her revenge and though I initially shook my head when she escaped her apartment carrying a massive gun as big as she is, I didn't doubt that anyone with that much determination would be trained for anything, including this.

Colombiana doesn't offer anything new as far as story is concerned and Megaton's direction is good though not memorable but what I really appreciate is that Besson continues to create interesting female characters. Admittedly this isn't a particularly great role but it's rare enough that it caught my attention and in a climate where we're forever complaining about the lack of good female roles, in comes Cataleya, a character who relies on her intellect and well honed abilities. I hesitate to call her a role model, no one wants their kids, be they boys or girls, to idolize killers, but I'm more comfortable having teen girls watch this than the latest romantic comedy. Enter the film's rating which, at PG-13 (PG in Canada), leaves it open for mom and dad to have a night out with their pre-teen girls but the kid friendly rating doesn't mean it's completely devoid of violence, there's quite a bit of blood and more than a few dead bodies, just goes to show that it is possible to make a decent action movie while keeping it relatively clean.

Colombiana is an entertaining bit of action fodder to help wrap the end of summer. It's disappointing the movie didn't do better, surprising too considering the apparent love for Saldana, but I don't doubt Besson will keep shelling these out and as long as he does, I'll keep watching.

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agentorange (7 years ago) Reply

Sounds like what I would expect from Besson's studio. Titles are hit and miss, but mostly hit. I make an effort to see them all.

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