If you've ever wondered how Matilda from "The Professional"
would have turned out had she become an assassin, Colombiana
answers that question. Produced and co-written by Luc
Besson, the French writer and director responsible for the
previously mentioned cult classic, Colombiana delivers a tale
of vengeance served up in violent fashion.
Colombiana follows the story of Cataleya, a beautiful but
equally dangerous morena who finds herself in America after
tragedy befalls her family in Bogota. Cataleya,
portrayed by actress Zoe Saldana of Avatar
fame, is driven by the desire to avenge the death of her
The best part about
Colombiana on Blu-Ray is that the visuals are stunning.
The film was shot in Mexico, America and France, and the
directing coupled with rich colors makes for a great watch.
If you're an action junkie,
Colombiana certainly delivers. The film's style is
similar to that of 2010's "Salt" with Angeline Jolie, filled
with gunshots and plenty of physical action by the lead
actress. The film features one elaborate hand-to-hand
combat sequence, which is a treat to those of us who are fans
o the Bourne franchise, but it's otherwise light on action
scenes in that vein.
Zoe Saldana, an
appropriately cast Dominican-Rican actress, is sizzling hot in
Colombiana. She's incredibly sexy as the film's central
character, and the Director wastes no opportunities in showing
off the lithe Latina's captivating figure. Action
sequences feature a gun-toting Saldana in everything from
skin-tight spandex, to body-hugging sleepwear. Whether
doing an impromptu Salsa dance in her studio apartment, to
slinking around ventilation shafts in search of her victims,
Cataleya is both breathtaking and capable. The remainder
of the cast is rounded out by film veterans Lennie James
(Snatch), Cliff Curtis (Blow, Training Day), Jessie Borrego
(Bound By Honor) and Spanish actor Jordi Mollà.
That being said, Colombiana
is not without its faults. Perhaps the biggest problem
with the film is that the story simply isn't that interesting.
The plot itself simply isn't that original, which leaves the
film to rely solely on action to keep the audience
entertained. There's also a lack of character
development, which Luc Besson was able to successfully capture
with The Professional.
One of the bigger issues
that I have with the film involves Cataleya's decision to
commit contract killings. From the start of the film,
the audience is made to sympathize for the young Colombiana
with a seemingly rational desire to avenge her parents.
But somewhere along the way, and with absolutely no
explanation why, Cataleya becomes an assassin for hire.
While it's made clear that she uses her career choice as a
means of smoking out those responsible for the death of her
parents, it strips away the nobility of why she wants to
become a killer in the first place.
In the Professional, Léon
is unapologetically represented as a killer for hire.
While part of his allure is his no-women-no-kids assassin code
of conduct, he evolves into a weapon of justice for Matilda.
While the contract killings in Colombiana seems relatively
necessary to introduce action scenes, it still detracts from
how Cataleya can rationalize the murder of people uninvolved
with the death of her parents. This may have no
relevance to action junkies, but it's unfortunately one of the
reasons why a film with an excellent cast will fail to achieve
the cult classic status of previous Luc Besson movies.
Special features on the Blu-Ray
include a "Making Of" segment, "Cataleya's Journey",
"Assassins", "Training a Killer", and "Take the Ride."
The extras include a variety of interview clips with Saldana,
director Olivier Megaton, and other members of the cast.
Actors offer interesting backstories on the shooting locations
for the film, which range from New Orleans to favela-like
barrios in Mexico. The "Training a Killer" featurette
also provides insight from Zoe Saldana on why the film's
hand-to-hand scenes didn't fit a particular style of martial
It's worth mentioning that
Colombiana is not without a bit of controversy. A vocal
few have criticized the film for its lack of Colombian cast,
and its portrayal of violence stemming from the South
American country. My opinion is that there isn't
anything stereotypical or overtly negative towards Latinos in
this film. No one seemed to be particularly vocal about
Angelina Jolie in Salt, or Antonio Banderas in the Mariachi
franchise. For those that consider Colombiana a negative
representation of Colombia, I'm interested to know if they
also spoke up for Mexicans in "Machete."
I take Colombiana for what
it is: an action flick that happens to have a Latina in the
lead role. It's a decent movie, albeit with a fairly
predictable conclusion. While the story itself leaves
something to be desired, it's certainly worth a rent if you're
a fan of action flicks. If you're looking for what to
get from your local Redbox kiosk, give Colombiana a shot.