Colombiana: A Female-Led Action Thriller That Hits Pretty Close To The Mark

29 08 2011

Colombiana is the sequel-that-never-was to Luc Besson’s 1994 classic, The Professional. The writer/producer revamped his script for the sequel and created an entirely new story, the result of which is Colombiana. Here’s the breakdown:

Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) witnessed the brutal murder of her parents when she was only nine. She quickly dedicated her life to becoming the best assassin she could be. But revenge can’t be ignored, and Cataleya embarks on a quest to rid the world of her family’s murderers.

The Monkey: Colombiana has a solid story. While familiar, the revenge thriller is nearly always satisfying; you can’t help but want to see the bad guys get what’s coming to them. And make the leading protagonist a beautiful, resourceful, gun-toting woman and you’ve got yourself an enjoyable romp, no matter how you spin it. Saldana proved she can carry a movie – she channeled the likes of Milla Jovovich and Angelina Jolie well and added a certain poise and grace of her own.

The supporting cast members were equally strong. Jordi Molla as the go-to henchman, Cliff Curtis as the wise mentor and Callum Blue as the dirty CIA operative delivered standout performances that lent a much-needed gravity to the opera of flying bullets and skin-tight catsuits.

The action was the centerpiece of Colombiana – no surprise here. The filmmakers managed to keep the sequences fresh and entertaining. From MacGyver-like jury-rigging to shark tanks to an all-out one-woman assault on a fortified compound, Colombiana kept the action coming one magazine after another.

The Weasel: Some of the emotional notes of the film were off-key. While we feel bad for nine-year-old Cataleya, and sympathize with her desire to avenge her parents, the transition from avenger to for-hire assassin was glossed over and underdeveloped. Why was it a surprise to her uncle (Curtis) that she was seeking revenge, when that’s why she began her training in the first place? Why did she so carelessly put her remaining family in danger, despite her meticulous nature and attention to safety in all other aspects of her life? These questions were left unanswered in order to move the story along. Unfortunately, no amount of bullets could keep these plot holes plugged.

The weakest link here was FBI agent Ross (Lennie James). His character was late to the game and given too much screentime without enough substance to make the audience care. Ross was intended to be the cat to Cataleya’s mouse, but he ended up being an unnecessary piece of an already muddled puzzle. And while I like Michael Vartan, his turn as the artist/love-interest Danny was underutilized. The character was a foil, meant to humanize Cataleya and give her a glimpse of what her life could be; however, there was far too little development and chemistry between the two to make it a worthwhile plot investment. At some point you realize you don’t care about her romantic entanglements, you just want her to grab a bazooka and blow things to hell.

A stable story peppered with great action and an thoroughly watchable leading lady, Colombiana accomplished what it set out to do and them some. And again I ask…who doesn’t like seeing a gorgeous lady lay the smack down?

3.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Does Zoe Saldana have what it takes to join the kick-ass female action star hall of fame? Share your thoughts in the comments!