Movie Review - Colombiana

I have mixed feelings about this film. The main character is an assassin, essentially a serial killer with a personal vendetta that goes way too far. Comparatively speaking, she's worse than the Bride in Kill Bill or even Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Yet, you root for her by the end.

Most often, you're curious as to how she's going to pull off these elaborate kills. It's not that the kills are elaborate, although the ones involving animals are a little. It's that her targets are usually highly guarded, so the elaborate nature is her getting in and getting out past all those guards and protections. Director Olivier Megaton choreographs her getting in and getting out in very slick and very cool ways, and ultimately that's what suckers you, the skillfulness with with which this is done.

Zoe Saldana (Avatar and Star Trek) continues her trek of films proving how much of an action star she is. She is beautiful beyond compare, but she is a bad-ass chick that can be sexy and stone cold. She can be a total female, demure and vulnerable, and then turn around and be a total fighter, demanding and vicious. She's smart and sensitive, and she is someone you cannot take your eyes off.

Saldana plays Cataleya, a young Colombian girl who flees to Chicago to be with her uncle Emilio Restrepo, played by Cliff Curtis. Cataleya flees because a gangster has her family killed. Like something out of a Korean thriller or a spaghetti western, Cataleya vows revenge. She vows to kill the man responsible, a ruthless gangster named Don Luis. Emilio trains her and becomes her sort of assignment manager.

Michael Vartan (Alias and Hawthorne) is Danny, her boyfriend and painter who knows nothing about her being a super assassin, but he tries to get to know her as he easily falls in love with her. Black, British actor Lennie James plays Ross, the FBI agent who is trying to find Cataleya. White, British actor Callum Blue plays Richard, the CIA agent who is protecting Don Luis. All three have very effective rules and become key players in the end game for Cataleya. The script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen ties them all together very well. It's not perfect but quite well done.

What's even incredible is that as amazing as Saldana is, she's not seen for nearly a half hour into this movie. The girl you do see in that half hour is 12-year-old Amandla Stenberg who plays Cataleya around that age. She surprises by carrying this movie in a way that you initially don't expect. Seeing Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass and Saoirse Ronan in Hanna prepared me for this explosive opening, but it was still wildly refreshing.

The director maintains an energy with this movie that builds at a proper pace until we get to a hyper-kinetic fight during the climax. My mixed feelings about the morality of this movie remain mixed, but the depiction of a strong, female character who is a latina or of any minority status is different and bold, even in this day and age, considering the lack thereof, and I appreciated it.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for violence, intense action sequences, sexuality and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 47 mins.


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