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I'm glad some of the other reviewers on this site have acknowledged that Columbiana is a French film. Having the dialogue in English, pandering to the English speaking market does not detract from the freshness of what is on the screen. Rather than a Hollywood paint-by-numbers exercise in boredom, we are given a wonderfully empathetic lead character played by Zoe Saldana with complete believability. Olivier Megaton directs the Luc Besson script with an eye to original twists to clichéd action sequences. I went in expecting less than what I got, and came out wanting to buy the DVD when it is released, hoping for a sequel. Far better than most American made summer fare. Congrats to all.
I'm going to begin by saying Besson's Leon is one of the best films
ever made. Screenplay, acting, soundtrack, directing,
cinematography,.....every aspect was magnificent. That being said,
Columbiana is no Leon. Basically it's just a superficial Jolie film
without Jolie. The story is ridiculously expounded, the actors are
second rate, and the setting is about as morose and uninteresting as it
could possibly be. No one cares about any character in this film. It
has no heart, and no soul. Just a lot of bangs and booms. If that's
your deal, go see it....although there are better like-genre films to
waste your money on. Besson missed his chance at a blockbuster sequel
to a classic. This dreg is not it, although I'm sure it was in the back
of their minds when they conceived this tripe.
This film will be forgotten in a month. The comparisons will kill it. Meanwhile, Leon and Mathilda live on forever.
Finishing off a trilogy of 'girls with guns' movies that all emerged
within a year of each other, "Colombiana" takes a more direct approach
to the genre than "Hanna" or "Haywire". Hardly surprising really, given
that it's scripted by veteran action fans Luc Besson & Robert Mark
Kamen and directed by Besson's prodigy, Olivier Megaton. Admirers of
their work might enjoy this but personally, I felt a touch
disappointed. It has a cracking central performance, confident
direction and pacing and enough action sequences to keep bullet-heads
happy. But it felt a touch boring in places - the screenplay and story
aren't the strongest and it basically felt like a retread of Besson's
earlier smash "Leon". Nothing wrong with that - "Leon" is one of my
favourite films of all time - but there wasn't much which surprised me.
It's competent without being spectacular and surely, being spectacular
is what an action flick should be all about.
Zoe Saldana plays Cateleya, a young woman who grew up in Bogota orphaned fifteen years earlier at the hands of gangsters led by cartel boss Don Luis (Beto Benites) and his henchman Marco (Jordi Mollà). Fleeing to Chicago to meet up with her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis), she becomes a highly skilled assassin waiting for her opportunity for revenge. So when the FBI's Special Agent Ross (Lennie James) starts getting close to uncovering her secret, Cateleya senses the time is right to strike back. But what price will her vengeance cost her - what remains of her family or her fledging relationship with artist Danny (Michael Vartan)?
As dumb as a sack full of hammers and just as hard-hitting, "Colombiana" is a straight-up shooter with the once-unusual gimmick of having a female pulling the trigger. Saldana is perfect as the sexy, sultry hit-woman and in truth, she deserves to be in a better film because the story doesn't give her much to do besides shoot the place up and look gorgeous. She gets little support from the rest of the cast who give the impression that this was simply a payday. The only surprise was little Amandla Stenberg as the young Cateleya - her escape from the cartel was exciting, gripping and marks her out as a possible future action star. It's a shame that the free-running chase through the slums is as good as the film got - it quickly descends into "Mission: Impossible"-type shenanigans as Saldana slips on her skimpy outfit, slides her booty through tight situations before getting the job done and then heading off for a pointless love scene. I wanted more from the movie than this - yes, it's very well shot but surely they could have been a bit more imaginative.
As such, I can only really recommend "Colombiana" to action fans who thought "Haywire" was too slow and "Hanna" was too art-house (although I notice that another 'girls-with-guns' picture is due soon with Salma Hayek in "Everly"). It's simply too similar to thousands of other action flicks, mainly due to Besson & Megaton's love of all things Tony Scott. It's not that the film is bad - Saldana really nails the performance and the action is suitably bombastic. It just doesn't take off the way you want it to, as though it's happy to plod along and hopes you're not paying too much attention to the script (note to film-makers: I did). Saldana proves that you don't need to be built like a UFC fighter to take on roles like this but what the film badly needs is some smarts to it. Overall, I think I'll stick with "Hanna" because it's more atmospheric, gripping and interesting than either this or "Haywire" plus it doesn't rely on near-constant action to propel the story. "Colombiana" is like a shot of espresso - it wakes you up but leaves you wanting something more.
COLOMBIANA, while a highly entertaining revenge film with a strong female lead, is let down by clichéd storytelling and lack of character development. The story is about Cataleya, a woman whose parents were murdered when she was a child. She then becomes an assassin who sets out to avenge her parents' deaths. As far as the action is concerned, I was pleasantly surprised that Olivier Megaton reined in his tendency to over-shoot and edit. The action sequences were all well put-together and comprehensible, although a final act fight scene in a bathroom kind of dipped back into what I generally don't like about modern action sequences. As far as acting was concerned, nobody gave a bad performance (even the actress who played young Cataleya), but it's a shame that they had such a poor script to work with. The weakest part of this movie, and what really does it in, is the story. The audience is never given a window into who Cataleya is or even care aside from the fact that her parents were murdered in front of her. As an adult, she is emotionally distant and has very little personality. Sure, you could say that it's part of the character but I didn't find it very compelling. There's also the issue of everything in the plot being implausible and convoluted. Again, this is escapist entertainment but a lot of those elements really took me out of the movie. Ultimately, though, I had a decent time. The film is by no means boring, but there are a lot of better ones which tackle similar subject matter, e.g., Luc Besson's Leon, to which this is perhaps too similar.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I came across this little gem when I was out and about doing a bit of
shopping. I noticed on the box that the same people involved with Taken
and Leon were behind this film. I therefore decided I'd buy the Blu Ray
and give it a try and I must say I wasn't disappointed.
To anyone who has seen Leon or for that matter any sort of revenge film the concept will be nothing new; we begin in 1992 in Colombia and a bunch of Colombians kill Cataleya's (Saldana's) parents following a business meeting that goes sour (they follow her father back to the family home and kill him and his wife in front of Cataleya). Before he gets killed, her father provides Cataleya with information that will get her safely to the US Embassy and Cataleya ends up relocating to the United States where she is raised by her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis). Cataleya asks Emilio to train her to become this super assassin - jump forward 15 years and Cataleya has now become the 'super assassin' and is out to get vengeance on those responsible for killing her parents.
Whilst Colombiana isn't an original concept for a film what I did enjoy about it is how much thought had clearly gone into the script. For example, the first scene of Cataleya as an adult shows her crashing into a car and getting arrested for DUI or being 'drunk and disorderly' which results in her spending a night in a cell, but she wasn't drunk and she uses this as a front in order to get in the same block as one of her targets - she escapes from her cell and kills her target, but makes it look as though one of the guards executed the crime. I personally thought that to come up with that alone was pretty damn smart.
There is another scene later in the film where Saldana goes to the land surveyor's office to get 'floor plans' for the house of her final target - that I also thought was brilliant. The script writers could have just followed the clichéd route of Cataleya just creeping around the house picking them off one by one - the effect/result would have been the same, but I have to give Kudos to the scriptwriters for trying to be a bit more original.
What I also liked was the fact that Cataleya wasn't merely represented as a 'stone cold assassin'. We see that she also tries to have a relationship with Danny Delaney (Michael Vartan). In one scene he is trying to find things out about her and you can see that Cataleya wants to tell him, but she knows that she can't for fear of her 'true identity' being revealed.
The acting was good by Saldana and all the rest of the cast were good as well. The characters were all well developed which meant that you actually cared for them.
Whilst Colombiana did have a fairly strong script there were a couple of implausible scenes - the prison scene where Cataleya accesses an Electrical Cupboard where the door is unlocked (any storage cupboard containing anything with High Voltage would definitely be locked). Emilio's scene where he shoots a passing motorist seemingly without consequence (yeah right). The final fight scene was also quite poorly choreographed and that's the only time when the directing was poor (the camera work was quite nauseating for those 5 minutes of so). Having said that, I still enjoyed Colombiana and whilst it isn't as good as Leon (which I didn't think it would be as Leon is a masterpiece it's still definitely worth watching).
This decent action thriller is directed by Olivier Megaton and
screenplay is created by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen - who all
have decent works behind them. True, there are multiple clichés and
usage of elements of their earlier creations (e.g. Leon or Taken), but
they are yet skilfully compiled and intertwined. Cataleya's chases and
executions of tasks are catchy to follow - partly thanks to Zoe
Saldana's good performance - and the tensions are high in spite of
sporadic lack of logic. The other actors worth mentioning are Cliff
Curtis as Cataleya's criminal uncle Emilo and Lennie James as Special
Agent James Ross, the others have too brief and/or trivial roles.
If you like wild action complemented with cat-and-mouse play and secret solo tasks, then Colombiana is definitely for you and the 1 hour 40 minutes pass fast.
Colombiana is bought to us by Luc Besson, the director who bought us
such assassin movies as Leon, Nikita and The Transporter franchise. In
his latest movie Zoe Salanda an actress who impressed me both visually
in terms of her physique and her acting ability in previous action
films like The Losers and James Cameron's critically acclaimed film in
terms of visual effects and 3D Avatar. She does the same thing here and
though she is considered to be in that role of a bad-ass chick as she
plays it here in Colombiana. But like her two other films for me she
has a certain presence on screen that marks her out as more than just
an action actress whose just good at stunts etc. There are certain
scenes within Columbiana that separate her character and our
perspective of her as being an actress who can deviate from this narrow
role and carry off more serious parts. She has a bright future ahead of
her and I hope that any roles she gets in future will be a film of a
different type than action as she has that potential to broaden herself
The basic plot of the movie starts out as Cataleya as a young girl who parents are murdered in cold-blood. She escapes from the assassins and goes to one of her father friends who takes her in. She then grows up to become a stone-cold assassin herself to avenge her parents death. The plot of course is nothing new as it's been done so often before. But there were other problems with it. For a start the Colombians speaking in English was ridiculously bad in such a way it was funny. It would have been better if they had just spoken their native language and had subtitles for those parts. I wouldn't have minded.
The film didn't start well either. The first twenty five minutes was just plain awful, with a few plot holes that are so glaringly obvious, you would have to be blind not to see them. I wouldn't have minded these plot holes had the film in this segment been entertaining. First of all the father of the family who is killed doesn't even warn his own guards outside his house that his "friend" is sending men to kill him. Then miraculously Cataleya as a ten year old girl manages to jump out of a window onto her fathers car, which is easily a few hundred feet drop without injuring herself. Even being healthy for her age and having plenty of exercise she would have injured herself in some fashion as a child's bones at that age aren't fully developed. We're also meant to swallow the notion that she can travel from Colombia to Chicago in America without being picked up by the authorities.
It's only when Zoe Salanda comes onto the screen as Cataleya as an adult when the film really improves. The first scene when she comes into the police station masquerading as a prostitute is one of the scenes where Salanda steps out of the role as action chick and shows more acting ability. It is a great little scene which is humorous. In fact she is so convincing (as it is a deception) I really thought she was a prostitute. From the scene in the police station Salanda gives a great performance (with an impressive physique, she once again impresses as being an action chick). But there were a few other scenes two with her boyfriend Danny (Michael Vartan) they were surprisingly tender, particularly the second one. In these scenes and a couple of others Salanda through the projection of her dialogue and facial expressions managed to evoke an emotional response from me. I felt some sympathy for her character of what she had gone through. This is why I think she has more potential as an actress instead of just an action chick.
Good performances also come from Vartan and Lennie James as Ross (an FBI agent). Other good things about Columbiana is the stunts and action sequences were well done (those in the segment of the last eighty minutes of the movie). I particularly admired in a goofy sort of way when Catalaya uses toothbrushes as a fighting weapon. Of course the script and dialogue is bad but that is easily forgivable. I did detest the first twenty five minutes but it did get better and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the film. This is worth seeing for most of the action and stunts and an understated performance from Salanda who is more than just eye candy in this. If you can get pass the plot implausibilities and awful script and dialogue and a cliché story, you may enjoy this for the other positives I mentioned. But that is not guaranteed as others will have differing opinions from me. I though did enjoy it for the most part. It fulfils it's primary function to entertain and you can't ask much more from a popcorn trashy movie.
The plot is predictable and not eye-opening at all.
But in the beginning Cataleya,still a little girl, impressed me with her cold and firm eyesight.
That leads me to her next steps to revenge.
Cataleya took the chance of ruining her love, live and even her remaining family just for revenge.
The loss in her childhood badly destroys the path of life in front of her.
Is it worthwhile? Marco thinks he finally find his true love, Cataleya..
His words, "I love you " seems fail to bring her back.
Sad tunes of music with the movie in the end~~~~
I expected this movie to be horrible because that is all I heard of it.
I'm not sure why. It wasn't horrible. The action was great and compared
to most movies today, it was entertaining, which I can't say is the
same for most movies that get theatrical release. My only real problem
with it was the neat and tidy ending of how they figure out she's a hit
man and where to find her. Obviously, when they wrote the script they
could not think of any good way that some total bad a** would ever get
caught so they create a ridiculous way for them to find her out and
ridiculous technology to find her location. Come on. You can do better
than that. In that moment it went from being a pretty good movie to
student-film-quality writing. Other than that, I have no real, big
At the end of the day, it was a bit soulless, but how much can you really empathize with a killer? It's possible, but this was more of an action film than a story of depth. It's also a little unbelievable that someone so skinny has as much strength or power as she does. Sure, she could do all the gymnastics she does and look graceful, which was cool, but she doesn't really look like she could do as much damage as she does. She did carry her stunts well, though, so I will give her that. Summer Glau doesn't look as tall as Zoe so she was a little more believable in "Serenity" as this sort of ballerina a** kicker. And I'm guessing the black suit Zoe wore was to help cover up the fact that her arms are so puny. Her arms are exposed in 'The Losers' which makes Zoe look kind of anorexic. Not attractive and not convincing that someone is tough.
I remember when I first heard about "Colombiana", I was like, "Zoe
Saldana kicking ass in a movie written and produced by Luc Besson? I'm
already sold". So for those of you who don't know, Luc Besson is the
guy who brought us "Taken", "The Transporter" trilogy, "Leon: The
Professional" and "Nikita". So this guy has a pretty damn good resume.
So there's no reason to not trust him. And this is a film I'm going to
add to his list of awesomeness So "Colombiana" is the story of
Catelaya, a girl whose parents were murdered in front of her when she
was nine years old. 15 years have passed, she's become a master
assassin, and now she's on a quest of revenge to kill the gangster who
ordered the hit on her parents. Everyone says this and I have to point
it out too; Luc Besson basically ripped off his own creation (Nikita),
but it on a new hot actress, and now we have our movie. But I have to
say, I don't mind him doing this one little bit. Why? Because it's his
own thing he's ripping off, and the new chick playing said role is
Zoe Saldana plays Cataleya. Most people these days will know her either as Lieutenant Uhura in J.J. Abram's 2009 reboot of "Star Trek", or as Neytiri in "Avatar". This girl is one of my favorite new actresses in Hollywood, and it's nice to finally see her kick some ass. Cataleya is a precise and calculating killing machine. When she's got a weapon, you're just screwed.
The action in "Colombiana" is great. The very first action scene happens within 10 minutes. Nine year old Cataleya is being chased by Columbian gangsters and you're just thinking "Does everyone in Columbia practise free-running and parkour"? And when you throw free-running and parkour into an action flick, you get my seal of approval. Then the final action scene is just a pure bullet-fest. There is nothing more enjoyable then seeing a beautiful mansion be destroyed by grenades and mountains of bullets.
So overall, I enjoyed "Columbiana". It's a good action film, and anyone who liked "Taken" should enjoy this. It might not be Luc Besson's best action film, but I think it's a new one of his underrated classics, and I'll definitely buy this.
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