Never forget where you came from. It’s a point that was drilled into the heads of anyone who watched the trailer for Colombiana, and it’s a point that was made in the film as well. I’m all for action movies. I’ll take action over pretty much any other genre any time and twice on Sundays. Because Sundays scream for action movies. But that’s besides the point. I’m also always looking out for that next big female action star. Could this be it? Could Zoe Saldana be this year’s Ripley or Sarah Connor?
The material seemed like it was possible. A story about a young girl who witnesses the murder of her parents at the hands of a Colombian crime lord’s henchmen, travels to Chicago to be raised by her uncle. She vows vengeance and for the next 15 years is trained to become an assassin. As an adult, her uncle sets up jobs that she is ordered to execute. On the side however, she’s picking off those responsible for her parents’ death one by one and marking them with a Cataleya (Colombian) orchid. The Feds are on to her, as well as the Colombian mob, and now she needs to finish the job before she gets caught.
First of all, this was written and produced by Luc Besson. This is the man who brought us La Femme Nikita, and The Professional. He’s got a knack for great action and strong female characters. Unfortunately they didn’t gel too well here in the hands of Olivier Megaton, who brought us Transporter 3. There’s an attempt at character development, which falls a bit short, and there’s an attempt at action, which not so much falls short, it’s just….mediocre.
Megaton’s film suffers from what can only be described as multiple personality disorder. It wants to be an action film, yet it also wants to have a certain level of emotional drama. It’s made clear time and time again that Cataleya most certainly did not forget where she came from and that emotional baggage sets her on her present course. But it all feels just a tad disconnected. Her relationship with her uncle seems real enough, but her walls are always present. This is a device of the character but unfortunately it resulted in keeping the viewer (namely me) out as well. Don’t get me wrong. I really really dig Zoe Saldana and I think she’s great. The girl can emote with the best of them and I’ve liked pretty much every movie I’ve seen her in. But I don’t think she was used as well as she could have been in this film.
For someone who is emotionally closed off like Cataleya is, she’s still human and needs some sort of human connection to someone who is not her family. She find comfort in the arms of Danny Delanay (Michael Vartan). Their relationship is strictly on her terms and feels a bit out-of-place. I’m currently revisiting the Alias series and have to say it’s nice to see Vartan again. I haven’t seen him in anything in a while so that was a pleasant surprise. He did well with what he was given, which is to say, not much at all. The rest of the cast does a decent job as well. Cliff Curtis plays the mentor/uncle who teaches Cataleya everything she knows. Lennie James is the overworked FBI agent who is trying to track her down. Jordi Molla is the bad man’s right hand who is trying to stop her before she reaches the end of her list. I look at him and all I can see is Hector Tapia from Bad Boys II. He basically plays the same character here.
Trying to capture the best of both worlds between emotional drama and stylized action can work in some cases, but not here. This film needed to decided which direction it wanted to go and commit to it. Instead spent the 108 minutes it had being indecisive. There were some scenes where the action was good, but it felt as if the filmmakers sat around a table and just threw out ideas and then put them all together for one scene. I’m not saying it wasn’t entertaining, because for the most part, it was….mildly so. However, some of it was just a little too silly. Saldana handled the action scenes really well considering she only had so much to work with. I don’t blame her for the film’s failures.
This is one of those films that could have been a really great character drama with hints of action, or a really great action film with fully developed characters. Unfortunately it ended up being a film with characters that you don’t really care much about and some so-so action. Either way I don’t’ think it’s quite what fans or either or both will be looking for.
I didn’t hate this film. I didn’t even really dislike it. I guess you could say I’m leaning toward indifference. Still trying to decided, check out the trailer below.Tags: Cliff Curtis, Colombiana, Lennie James, Luc Besson, Michael Vartin, Olivier Megaton, Zoe Saldana