There was talk of Luc Besson’s latest project Colombiana being a Leon 2: Mathilda – Assassin for Hire. The reality is far more disappointing with a forgettable ho-hum actioner taking the place of what could have been a fun film.
Zoe Saldana is Cataleya, daughter of a South American gangster who along with his wife is killed in a scene that recalls Besson’s Leon (something that happens a lot in this film). Young and impressionable, the experience has changed her and after making her way to America she decides she wants to be a “killer”. For some reason her Uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis) agrees to this and she turns into Saldana, a contract killer by day who searches for her father’s killer, hoping to drag him out of his little hidey-hole by leaving a message (a drawing of the Cataleya flower) on her victims.
Olivier Megaton’s previous directorial work indicated that he was more of an action director than one who cared about plot, character or fresh ideas. Besson’s and fellow scribe Robert Mark Kamen’s script is about as generic as it gets (people die + revenge = more people dying) and his direction never diverts attention from its flatness, instead, opting to peruse Saldana’s lithe body as she silkily goes about and, y’know, kills people.
There’s the padding of her relationship with Michael Vartan’s Danny implying our heroine is significantly damaged emotionally, unable to open up to others as she recklessly endangers the lives of her loved ones by playing with fire (and she gets burned, figuratively speaking). She’s your typical beautiful, deadly but fragile assassin who floats around killing stereotypes and dressing in body hugging clothes.
There’s little weight to the characters and their relationships (with Cliff Curtis coming close to adding a little bit of interest/conflict) and the action is rather sub-par; explosive to be sure, but filled with such inane me-too style sequences (another parkour chase?) and some incoherent framing and editing with so many cuts that it’s hard to decipher what good director and editor thought they were doing, (a fight scene with Jordi Molla’s gangster is physical but my word is the camera tight on the action).
In the end Colombiana is the sort of passable, harmless film that’s churned out every year. It’s dim enough that it entertains with a few neat assassinations (toothbrush!) and Saldana’s pleasingly let loose with an assault rifle in the final act, but it sacrifices too much clarity for visceral fight sequences and the narrative is your standard revenge followed by blah blah more revenge, blah blah the end. Uninspiring stuff and Saldana deserves more than this pilfering of better films.