Saldana shines in ‘Colombiana’

By Gus Bode

Action movies have created a trademark with the sly, “I make this look too easy” butt-kicking protaganist: Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible,” Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale” and now blockbuster actress Zoe Saldana in “Colombiana.”

The film opens in Colombia, where nine-year-old Cataleya witnesses her parents’ death at the hands of shady drug lord Don Luis (Beto Benites).  The traumatic incident leaves the young girl with a hunger for revenge and sets this predictable picture into motion. After narrowly escaping mobsters, ambassadors and airport security, Cataleya runs off to Chicago where she is united with her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis).

Flash forward 15 years and Cataleya (Saldana) transforms into a stone-cold killer with a somewhat soft center. In essence, Saldana is an assassin, done hipster chic. She keeps a pointless, no-strings-attached relationship with an artist (Michael Vartan of “Hawthorne”), changes her Urban Outfitters’ wardrobe at a breakneck pace and tags her victims with lipstick graffiti in an attempt to send a message to her parents’ killer.


Believability has never been a characteristic of the action film genre, but “Colombiana” takes its conceptual liberty to comical levels. Writer and French film stylistic extortioner Luc Besson teams up with “Transporter 3” director Olivier Megaton, who does the ultimate thriller no-no. The two make, for the most part, a movie that moves too slow and runs too long.

True, there are some great sequences, and overall the film is fun and Saldana’s charisma lights up the screen. But how many air ducts can one girl sexily slide into? The actress’ fatal near misses become redundant, while the effortlessness of her actions surpasses cool and makes her seem bored with everything.

The movie’s ending and emotional weight give “Colombiana” a good amount of creditability. Had the filmmakers embraced the dark themes of the picture and pushed past the laughable “PG-13” rating, they would’ve given this all-too-familiar tale of one woman’s revenge a bit more originality and made a stronger film.