In the Latin action film, Colombiana, a ten-year old girl, Cataleya (Amandla Sternberg), witnesses the murder of her parents. Before the killers can kill her too, she escapes to America, where she talks her Uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis) into teaching her how to be a cold-blooded killer. Fast forward 15 years and a grown Cataleya (Saldana) has become what she’s always wanted to be – a killer.
I was all set to dismiss Colombiana as bad. After all, the crowd sitting in the theater where I screened the film was less than enthusiastic about seeing it. Who could blame them? The film is starring a waif actress as a cold-blooded killer who looks like she would melt if you look at her hard enough. So the question became can Zoe Saldana pull off cold-blooded assassin, well.
The plot, written by screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Kamen, is a bit far-fetched and total action movie material. I’m still wondering how a ten-year old girl was able to move throughout the United States by herself and not get kidnapped or worse. Then again, because this is purely an action movie, not everything is supposed to make sense.
A couple of the details in the movie do not add up. For example, the film is supposedly set in 2007, but a CIA operative has a picture of President Obama hanging behind him in his office. President Obama was inaugurated in 2009. And less obvious, but noticeable to this fashionista, grown Cataleya wears platform stilettos that weren’t in style until two years later. Both Besson and Kamen are either worse at math then I am or they should fire their fact checker.
Despite the holes, the script is decently written. All of the scenes in the film are put to good use furthering the weak plot. Cataleya is super smart and super cocky. I wouldn’t necessarily call her a heroine, seeing as she kills without feeling. But, I will say that it’s nice to see a strong female lead who is good at what she does and doesn’t need to be rescued.
Saldana is whip smart and pretty good with a firearm, but she’s still waif thin. Her character has a few quirks, like a fondness for pulling off her assassinations barefoot and for being naked. Saldana and director Olivier Megaton made sure not to reveal breasts or else they would not have gotten the coveted PG-13 rating for this film.
Although Megaton (Transporter 3) as a director tries very hard to make this a gritty film, it is neither the grittiest nor the best in action this year. And though it does have a certain suspenseful quality that is hard to ignore, the film could have benefited from more suspense and less plot holes.
Fortunately, Saldana doesn’t carry the film all on her shoulders. Unfortunately, Besson and Kamen didn’t make good enough use of Curtis, as Uncle Emilio, who is unpredictable. The character is a killer, through-and through but halfway through the film, he appears to be a different person all together with no explanation for his turnabout. Is Uncle Emilio getting too old for his business? Or is Curtis unable to maintain his character?
Other actors of note are Sternberg for her ultimate gumption and tenacity as little Cataleya. The young actress is one to watch for future stardom. Jordi Molla as Marco, is the man that killed Cataleya’s parents and is right-hand to the villain. Incidentally, Molla is more of a villain than his boss, Don Luis (Beto Benites). Honestly, Don Luis is a throwaway character, which is not good villain material.
Finally, the smartest man in the film is a black man, FBI Agent Ross (Lennie James). Agent Ross quickly tracks Cataleya on her crime spree without batting an eye lash. He is the real hero of this film who also plays well off of Saldana.
I love that Colombiana features a smart woman who is really good at what she does. But, I think a good female lead deserves a good, leading plot to complement her talent. After all, this is Zoe Saldana. She’s famous for a reason. I just hope that in the inevitable sequel that she will have more meat on her bones. Nothing says frail like model thin holding an enormous machine gun.
Kimberly Grant may be reached at KAliciaG@aol.com and facebook.com/fashgirl83.
Photo: Zoe Saldana