Saturday 23 June 2012

Movie Review: Colombiana (2011)

A stylish but ultimately routine revenge action thriller, Colombiana has enough human drama to rise above the bottom drawer, but not by much.

In Colombia, hit-man Fabio wants out of the evil drug empire of Don Sandoval. But no one leaves the Don and lives to talk about it, and so henchman Marco and a team of goons are dispatched to eliminate Fabio and his entire family. This they do, with the exception of Fabio's young daughter Cataleya, who escapes and eventually makes her way to the United States where she is sheltered by the underground Colombian community in Chicago.

Years later Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) is a professional assassin, killing for money while on the side hunting down Marco and the still-powerful Don Sandoval empire to extract her revenge. Her mission is somewhat complicated by the CIA sheltering the bad guys, but she finally tracks them down, setting up an explosives-packed showdown to the death.

Zoe Saldana may well be the only reason to watch Colombiana, and she elevates the material with a reasonably affecting performance. In the character of Cataleya she combines athleticism with emotion, and determination with self-doubt. She does methodically mow down all enemies with ruthlessness and far-fetched ingenuity, but there are enough scenes of reflection, detached romance and reaching out to an FBI agent for Saldana to demonstrate talent beyond firing deadly ordnance.

Director Olivier Megaton is an expert in these story-thin, bullet-rich, stunt-filled movies, and attempts to keep a reasonable balance between wanton destruction and Cataleya's character development, although when in doubt, his will always throw in one more stunt. Megaton bathes Colombiana in rich, vivid colours, all the better to bring out the sweat beads of desperate men and the fiery red and orange of exploding missiles and grenades.

Created by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp film company, with Besson co-producing and co-writing the script, Colombiana aims low, but hits its target. That the target explodes goes without saying.

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