Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Colombiana

Directed by Olivier Megaton.
2011. Not Rated, 108 minutes.
Cast:
Zoe Saldana
Jordi Mollà
Lenni James
Cliff Curtis
Amandla Stenberg
Michael Vartan
Beto Benites
Jesse Borrego
Graham McTavish

Does anything good ever come of a scene which starts with a bunch of henchmen hanging out by the pool holding assault rifles? That’s precisely where we start Colombiana. The rest of the scene consists of two Colombian druglords saying extremely nice things to one another. Of course, one of them will die shortly. In this case, it’s the visitor. He know there’s trouble afoot. He goes straight home, tells his wife and very young daughter “we have ten minutes” and hastily starts packing. Before the family can get out the door, here come the pool flunkies plus a few more of their co-workers. The gangster and his wife are shot dead right in front of their child. With more speed and athleticism than I’ve ever seen in a girl her age, about 10, she manages to escape the goon squad. Using the last minute instructions her dad gave her, she makes it all the way to Chicago to live with her uncle, another bad guy. However, she doesn’t care about the family business. She just wants revenge. Fast forward to the present and Cataleya (Saldana) is actively trying to make her dream come true.

Given what we see her accomplish as a pre-teen, we have to expect she’s going to do the impossible as an adult. Yup, she does. The first execution we see her perform includes escaping a jail cell, travelling ventilation ducts, getting outside the precinct walls, back inside to her cell, framing a guard for the crime and a couple outfit changes. And you thought you had a busy day. Such feats of stealth and violence are commonplace for our heroine. If she’s not directly on the screen, she’s lurking just off it – ready to pounce.

That Cataleya will get her revenge is an inevitable outcome from the moment her parents are slain just a few feet from her. This movie lacks the ambition to try anything else. That makes it somewhat pointless to judge this on the basis of plot and character development or any other nuances people like me who waste a lot of words on movies like to pontificate about. The only criteria really is how well we enjoy her kicking butt and making stuff go boom. It’s no masterpiece, but it does its job. The action is fairly steady and fun to watch. The straight forward story-telling works well enough that we’re not totally bored when nothing is exploding or no one is being pounded. Star Zoe Saldana is athletic and sexy enough to keep the boys in the target audience engaged. It helps that they loved her in Avatar, Star Trek, and possibly even in The Losers. Colombiana is a fun, if forgettable, ride that manages to end before it wears out its welcome. At the very least, it’s a better revenge flick than Conan the Barbarian.

MY SCORE: 5/10

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