Colombiana

23 Sep

Title: Colombiana
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Olivier Megaton
Writers: Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Starring: 
Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan, Cliff Curtis, Callum Blue, Lennie James, Jordi Mollà
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, violence, disturbing images, intense sequences of action, sexuality and brief strong language
Runtime: 
108 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
5.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 
28%

 

I’m a Zoe Saldana fan, I always feel like she’s just very good in whatever she does, and while 2009 was her breakout year, with prominent roles in two of the highest-grossing and best films of that year, Avatar and Star Trek, she has been keeping herself busy ever since, and even though her three efforts from last year weren’t amazing (I gave Death at a Funeral a B-, Takers a C+ and The Losers a B) she was good in them and had a lot to do with whatever level of success they achieved. So I was looking forward to watching Colombiana, in which Ms. Saldana had the starring role in a kick-ass film that had the imprint of Luc Besson all over it, which meant I was pretty much hoping for a female version of Taken. And even though, once again, Ms. Saldana is damn good and certainly shows off some chops as a potential action star, the movie is otherwise just so-so, and subpar filmmaking once again lets her down.

It’s just pretty silly stuff, and not only is it silly stuff, but it’s silly stuff we have seen one too many times before by now. But then again, that’s kind of what Mr. Besson does, he’s the best guy at offering sheer entertainment that’s ridiculously high on adrenaline and horribly low on substance, so in hindsight I really shouldn’t have expected that much more from this film. In any case, Colombiana opens with a little girl witnessing the murder of her parents in Colombia, then moving back to American where, now as a grown up, she plans to extract revenge at all costs. Yes, this is another revenge film, another film from the Besson corporation that will go out of its way to throw some stylishly made assassination sequences at us, and make no excuses for how shallow and amoral it is when it’s all said and done. But hey, at least it’s something nice to watch while you chow down on some extra-buttery popcorn.

More importantly, at least it has Ms. Saldana. She really is the reason why this film isn’t something to scoff at entirely, it may have all of these B-movie action sort of elements, but when you have someone as gorgeous and as splendidly graceful as Ms. Saldana providing the ass-kicking then at least it’ll be damn pretty to look at. Now, even though Mr. Besson is a co-writer and producer of this film, and even though this is obviously just an extension of his brand of high-octane characters that wouldn’t be your usual suspects to provide so much action, the director here is actually Olivier Megaton, the French guy responsible for Transporter 3, the worst entry in that franchise. But, really, even though Mr. Besson is obviously a much more gifted filmmaker, and has made a few terrific films, it’s fine that someone else executes his vision because it doesn’t really take all that much to make something that’s so badly textured and grounded in no tangible reality, so, even though his hand was not subtle at all, Mr. Megaton was a fine replacement in a movie in which “fine” actually means “below average”.

The prologue of the film is actually pretty cool to watch, though. As you get that preteen version of Ms. Saldana’s character, Cataleya, just skirting through the slums of Colombia, showing some pretty nifty parkour chops you can’t really believe any nine-year-old possesses. That opening bit of the film I thought was very much enjoyable and made it seem as though this was going to be something more than your typical hammy late-summer escapist entertainment. But it wasn’t to be, as we will then see our lead character a decade and a half later, trained by a relative in the art of killing and having already amassed nearly two dozen hits in her young life, though of course she has only killed people who truly deserved what was coming, because that’s how these movies go. But yeah, it gets to the point in which the FBI starts trying to track her down and she decides to go back to Colombia to kill the crime boss responsible for death of her parents.

Colombiana in the end is just another Luc Besson production, with hot women in skimpy clothing and over-the-top bad guys spitting out some seriously ridiculous lines. And really, that’s fine, it’s fine because it didn’t really aim to be much more than that, and it’s fine because when you have someone like Zoe Saldana doing it all, it’s much more enjoyable to see. So yes, if you want to see some really big and honestly silly setpieces in a film full of unsubtle touches and preposterous action, then this is the film for you. And this may sound as though I’m implying that no one in their right minds would want to check it out, but that’s not true, this is at least some decently crafted and staged entertainment, and the script surprisingly allows for Ms. Saldana to show some nice range of emotion, so as cookie-cutter revenge film by Luc Besson as this may seem, it’s more than competent.

Grade: B-

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