Director: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan, Cliff Curtis, Amandla Stenberg, Jordi Molla, Lennie James, Callum Blue
Lesson #1 bad guys: When you’re in the process of wiping out someone, be sure to take out the entire family. Yes, even the kids; for one day, they will grow up big-n-strong (or in this case, sexy and borderline anorexic) and seek vengeance upon you.
A tale of revenge is what the 107 minute Colombiana showcases. It’s another femme fatale action piece in which the main character has a Crow-like desire to avenge her slain loved ones, but institutes a spy-like approach when stalking her prey.
The opening takes place in hot & sweaty Colombia where nine year old Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) witnesses her parents being gun-downed by criminal mafia henchmen, Marco (Jordi Molla). Right before the bloodshed, her father gave her instructions on how to get out of the country and over to the United States. The apt nine year-old succeeds and eventually gets all the way to Chicago and seeks out her Uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis).
Emilio plays on the other side of the law and Cataleya instantly asks him to train her to be a killer. Jump ahead 15 years later, and Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) is plucking off random bad guys all over the place without leaving a trace. This has everyone at the FBI baffled, leading special agent Ross (Lennie James) to working his team around the clock looking for any type of clue to their suspected vigilante.
Cataleya has an agenda though, and her symbolic calling card left at every crime scene is a personal message to lure out the cartel that murdered her family.
For a flick that features a character that never makes mistakes, there are surprisingly a bunch of continuity errors found within the scripting. Moments where characters contradict themselves within minutes of establishing something; along with the logic of how certain things unfolded, become a bit of a stretch. This is noticed during scenes encompassing the frequent cat & mouse games played between our lead and the people she’s either stalking or trying to avoid. Clearly the script is attempting to articulate the detail in how Saldana’s character is accomplishing impossible missions and what not, yet they always leave a huge gaping hole in the plans; which will have some audiences’ members calling out “bullshit.” What this screenplay needed was a solid training sequence so the viewer can buy into everything they are seeing out of the character. Based on what we’re given, it is tough to just roll with it every now and then.
If one is able to get over this flaw – and probably the only flaw from a mechanical perspective – then they should be able to enjoy this better than average, though familiar, spy thriller. It’s definitely better than recent genre contemporaries such as Salt and Hanna by a long shot. There may not be too much drama or suspense to this story (if any), aside from the very well thought out opening act, for it’s basically relying on the stealth action and escape montages. And isn’t that what some of the heralded James Bond flicks survived on? Colombiana is pretty much that sans the fine polish and pizzazz of the performances.
Overall, Colombiana may not have the precision of a sniper but at least it’s not just spraying and praying with an Uzi. This should hit its target audience and the no-nonsense story will keep one interested, despite the obvious direction.
Review by Joe Belcastro