CliqueClack Flicks

Colombiana – Somewhat sexy if generic thrill ride

Colombiana - Theater Review
Release Date: 08/26/2011 - MPAA Rating: PG-13
Clacker Rating: 3 Clacks

'Colombiana' is a decent action flick, which ends up being an excellent showcase for star Zoe Saldana, but is fairly by-the-numbers otherwise.


The action movie Colombiana is the latest thriller written by Luc Besson (Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita), although this one is directed by Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3). And although the ideas of Besson percolate through, the directing ends up feeling quite pedestrian. In this case, it’s a good thing and a bad thing. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Colombiana tells the story of a young girl Cataleya (played by relative newcomer Amandla Sternberg) who’s parents are killed by Colombian drug lord Don Luis (Beto Benites), aided by his capable killer Marco (Jordi Molla). But this girl turns out to have some skills, and she manages to escape to the US Embassy, where key data on Don Luis is parlayed into a passport to the USA. Cataleya is taken in by her uncle Emilio, played by Cliff Curtis, who reluctantly agrees to train her into a professional killer, provided she stays in school (how’s that for a positive message for the kids?).

Fifteen years later, Cataleya, now ably played by Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek) is not only quite the assassin, but is hoping to one day avenge her parents’ deaths by killing Don Luis, who has been moved by the CIA to a hidden location. Her tagging the victims with a personalized message has led the FBI, headed by Special Agent Ross, played by Lennie James (Snatch, Human Target) hot on her trail. At the same time, she enjoys a completely physical relationship with bland, boring Michael Vartan (Alias), who is very boring but apparently good looking enough to ignore his boring personality.

But things heat up when Special Agent Ross crosses paths with seemingly corrupt CIA agent Richard, played by Callum Blue (Dead Like Me, Smallvile). Soon enough, Cataleya must finally confront her own desires of revenge, even as they threaten to destroy everything she still cares about.

The movie is a fairly fun sort of affair, albeit with an exceptionally generic and predictable plot. The enjoyment comes from the mostly excellent performances, daring escapades, and violent action scenes. Zoe Saldana is nearly perfect as a stone-cold killer — she just seems a bit too thin at times to be quite as powerful as she ought to be conveyed. Her uncle Emilio is also portrayed as an interesting dichotomy of fury and love, although most of the other characters fall into common archetypes. As good as Lennie James is in this role, his FBI agent character is barely sketched beyond “Competent Guy Who Just Wants To Do The Right Thing.” Callum Blue’s smug CIA agent is a bit ridiculous, seeming kind of shoe-horned in at times.

Now the thing that jumped out to me personally was the ludicrous computer systems, but perhaps that’s an artifact of classic Hollywood nonsensical computer usage. As I already stated, Michael Vartan’s boyfriend character is meant to provide humanity for Cataleya’s ice cold exterior, but he’s so utterly boring — there is no real chemistry there, no reason to take their relationship seriously. Still, the directing is good, if not as crazy as I’d want from a Luc Besson story. Really the story isn’t as crazy as I’d want from him either.

All in all, it’s a pretty enjoyable time, nothing too hardcore but the perfect sort of thing to sooth your post-Conan disappointment blues.


Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures

Categories: Reviews, Theater Releases

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