PLOT: After witnessing the murder of her parents at the hands of vicious drug lord- Don Luis, Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) is trained by her uncle (Cliff Curtis) to become one of the world's top assassins, and prepare for the day when she can finally avenge her family.
REVIEW: COLOMBIANA didn't screen for the press in Montreal, and usually, when this happens, the movie in question is a disaster. The late August release date also spells trouble. Suffice to say, I walked into COLOMBIANA expecting a dud, but surprisingly, I found it to be a perfectly acceptable Saturday matinee, and a solid ninety minutes of mindless fun.
The reason COLOMBIANA works at all is Zoe Saldana. The gal has star power to burn, and without her, COLOMBIANA would have just been another B-movie. Of course, it takes a certain suspension of disbelief to see Saldana as an action heroine, as she looks like she weighs about ninety pounds. Luckily, producer Luc Besson, and director Olivier Megaton seem to understand that, so the biggest weapon in Cataleya's arsenal becomes stealth.
This is demonstrated in the first big action sequence, where Cataleya ingeniously infiltrates a prison to kill an inmate, and makes the whole thing look like an inside job. Most of the action sequences follow this stealthy pattern, until the inevitable final showdown, where Cataleya uses heavy firepower to level a mansion full of goons.
Olivier Megaton, who I thought mangled TRANSPORTER 3, did a much better job with COLOMBIANA than I thought he would, which bodes well for his upcoming TAKEN 2. The numerous action scenes are well done, and each is fully satisfying, with the exception of the climatic hand-to-hand battle with baddie Jordi Molla, which is obviously speed-up to cover for the fact that neither Saldana or Molla are particularly adept at martial arts. Still, that's a minor problem, as Saldana's intensity (and wild sex appeal) cover for her lack of physicality in the action scenes.
COLOMBIANA only suffers once the action stops, and the film's a bit flabby towards the middle. Saldana's relationship with Michael Vartan's wimpy painter doesn't offer any sparks, and all the scenes taking place in the FBI or CIA are atrocious, as the agents are all portrayed as morons. This is particularly true of Callum Blue's (of DEAD LIKE ME) CIA agent, who's seems to have all the intelligence of a coked-up frat boy. Lennie James, a fine actor, plays the clueless FBI agent chasing Saldana, and he's given nothing to do- and seems to be playing the exact same role he did in the recent thriller, THE NEXT THREE DAYS.
Still, COLOMBIANA does the trick, and is a solid B-action flick, although not much more. For what it's worth, I enjoyed it, although it pales alongside other Europa Corp,. movies like TAKEN, TRANSPORTER 1, and DISTRICT 13. That said, if you want some mindless fun while getting an eyeful of the gorgeous Saldana, this ain't a bad choice.
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