Luc Besson’s gotten some flak from his contemporaries for adopting a decidedly American approach to dishing out mass-produced movie magic. Frenetic editing, over-the-top set pieces and dialogue copied and pasted from “Plot Moving for Dummies” are some very important tools that he keeps at his disposal. Every time he feels like making a cool six figures, he reaches into his pocket, pulls out a handful of miscellaneous clichés, throws them at a wall, and makes a movie out of whatever happens to stick. And you know what? Sometimes it works.
Previous works Leon (also known as The Professional) and Unleashed both contained a cornucopia of ass kicking, yet both managed to hold their own with regard to style and substance.
Taken, The Transporter series, Kiss of the Dragon, and Banlieu 13 all moved in the opposite direction – total B-movies that don’t really try to fool anyone. They rush along with a dynamic sense of kinetic energy and rest on a solid foundation of nothing but bad-assery. You can’t help but love them for what they are because any obvious plot holes or other structural flaws are made up for through some awesome choreography and plenty of broken legs. Colombiana tries to fit itself into this second category but – well, we’ll get into that in a moment.
Our story begins with a young Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) living the good life in Bogotá, when her parents are suddenly wiped out by Marco (Jordi Mollà): Colombian Crime lord and Gerard Butler look-a-like. After being traumatized by her encounter with parental genocide, she is provided with a home and mentor figure in her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis), a former hitman who teaches her the art of shooting-people-in-the-face. After aging gracefully into a lithe and tanned Zoe Saldana, she makes it her life’s goal to smoke out Marco through a series of vigilante murders where she affectionately never fails to leave her calling card; a painting of a cattleya.
What follows are a couple of bland kills, a lot of bland characters, and a hearty helping of unintentional hilarity. The moment you come to the awareness that Cataleya’s dear-old uncle Emilio is essentially some kind of low-tier George Lopez, YOU WILL NOT UNSEE.
Where Colombiana seems to fail is that it tries to be a B-movie (and I use the word “tries” very loosely), but something about it just doesn’t work. Don’t get me wrong, I have a strange attraction to women who can kick my ass, but Zoe Saldana is less than convincing in her portrayal of a bad-ass killing machine. Maybe it’s just me, but it might be the fact that she looks like she could be obliterated by something as gentle as a passing breeze. Watch any trailer where she’s holding guns that should weigh twice as much as she does, and just try to assure yourself otherwise. If you don’t have access to a trailer, just imagine Jason Statham doing what he does best, except that he’s been on a four-year juice fast.
Because the suspension of disbelief here borders on “forget about science,” you’re left with an action movie devoid of any authentic action, which is further obscured by too many quick cuts.
And it’s not like we haven’t seen all this before, but done better. The whole “hot girl delivers the pain” motif has been handled with much more effort and care in La Femme Nikita, Kill Bill, and Hanna. You can probably name a whole lot more right off the top of your head, so why bother with this hackneyed example of patchwork? Perhaps it’s the slow-to-medium speed of the pacing, maybe it’s the forgettable characters, or it could even be the same recycled, unhinged crime lord that seems to haunt all of Besson’s screenplays, but there’s just something about this film that doesn’t grip you like it should. It’s a pity too, because Zoe Saldana can definitely act, and there’s no doubt that she has screen presence, but she’s given absolutely nothing to work with here.
The Verdict: [rating:2]
It’s a shame that a potential opportunity for more sexy-catsuit skull cracking wound up so outright boring, because you can imagine just how good this could have been instead. Aside from the last kill being pretty damn cool, the majority of assassinations are just one big contrived coincidence, or the target himself was too dumb to live in the first place. If you really need to see someone sultry and seductive snake her way around a screen, please direct your attention to the address bar above, and help yourself to some free porn — you’ve earned it, my friend. If you’ve got that insatiable hankering for some contract killer-style in-your-face action, find a copy of Leon, or, more recently, Hanna. If you absolutely have to see Zoe Saldana accompanying a cast that distractingly seems to resemble other actors, go shell out $11 to see Colombiana — it sure as hell will satisfy your unusual cravings.
Colombiana (2011) Trailer
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Year Released:
- 26 August 2011
- Olivier Megaton
- Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan, Jordi Mollà, Lennie James, Amandla Stenberg, Cliff Curtis, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, and Callum Blue
- Action, Adventure, Drama
- Official URL:
- Colombiana Movie