[Movie Review] Colombiana

Never forget where you came from.

Somewhere, in a alternate universe, Cataleya and Mathilda bounce from town to town on the bus line, frolicking and fight crime. This is the same alt. universe Luc Besson is still directing.

Colombiana should have been The Professional 2. It should have been Rated R.

Instead, we get a PG-13 movie about Cataleya played by Zoe Saldana. Her childhood in Bogata is going along pretty good until her drug dealing parents decide to leave the local cartel. The Cartel leader reciprocates by sending in his chief Lieutenant to wipe out the entire family.

The bad news is the Don and his Lieutenant are cardboard cut outs and barely leave a impression. What does leave an impression is the PG-13ness of this movie and at times horrible editing of the gun battles that should be epic since, hey, we’re talking about drug dealers with firepower that rivals a small army.

Instead, the family is dispatched off screen and Cataleya survives by her wits and after what should have been a great parkour run through the streets of Colombia instead it comes off as a: let’s see Amandla Stenberg playing young Cataleya run at half speed and let the camera tricks do the rest.

After eluding the drug cartel she makes it to the US Embassy with her passport out of town: a disk including all the drug cartel’s doings. This gets her as far as Chicago where she eludes her US chaperone and finds her uncle hip deep in the family business. This should set up a great parallel with the Professional when Cataleya tells him point blank she wants to be a killer.

The problem is what happens next is not the reaction from the uncle, it’s the scene where the uncle gives her two options go to school, learn to be a good killer or learn to kill and die quick. It’s a great crossroads if it weren’t for the fact he takes out his weapon and unloads on an oncoming car and tells her point blank to choose, she does so and they just walk away while the police arrive.

It’s mind boggling scenes like this and horrible dialogue that really cripples this movie until Zoe Saldana arrives as grown up Cataleya and manages to make you believe that yes she can actually take down a man twice her size with a toothbrush. And, I’m not kidding about toothbrush.

Cataleya has been busy for the last fifteen years, staying off the grid, eluding CCTV, contracted killer in the mornings while moonlighting and killing off bits and pieces of the cartel that killed her family, attempting to send a message but the FBI has been keeping a lid on her tag kills.

The FBI Crew led by Ross played by Lennie James fares better in this movie tracking down the clue to this tag killer than Chiwetel Ejiofor did in Salt because at least they give him scenes of tracking down the killer instead of the giant info dump in the beginning of Salt.

Once the FBI does go wide with their information Cataleya’s uncle is none too pleased and neither is the CIA that’s been hiding the Cartel in New Orleans in much of the same level of decadence they were last seen in Columbia.

Cataleya’s artist boyfriend played by Callum Blue could have been used as a hostage but instead he’s relegated to the out of the loop girlfriend role. He’s clearly frustrated with her but is too wishy washy to demand to be let into Cataleya’s secret life, maybe it’s the PG-13 sex that they have in every scene. Thankfully all that changes when a picture he’s taken of Cataleya makes it into the wrong hands and away we go with SWAT, breach, bang and clear charges and Zoe running around in shorts and wife beater toting a sniper rifles that’s bigger than she is.

There are lovely moments in the movie. Don’t get me wrong. The three assassination jobs Cat has on her to-do list are great scenes because it feels they were thought out well. It’s the rest of the plot I have a problem with. The exception being her Uncle trying to stop her when she’s too blinded by revenge to know how this is going to effect everyone else around her. And, sooner or later it does, off camera, leaving the antagonists just antagonists instead of a hissable villain.

The finale act with finding the Cartel’s house and the assault on it is a thing of beauty and thankfully there aren’t any bullet time shots. The problem is there are a few shots that just look too edited for the PG-13 rating and the resulting police clean up is left to the audiences imagination which is unfortunate because you’d think the FBI would be hot on her heels but no.

After seeing her briefly in POTC: Black Pearl and Star Trek, I hope this gets Zoe’s foot in the door of more action movies after showing up in critically panned The Losers last year. She carries this movie while the other characters in the movie could use with a good dose of background and scenes.

Overall, was a good movie to see on a rainy day. I hope there’s a sequel with a better plot.

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