Review – Colombiana

Directed by: Oliver Megaton

Starring: Zoe Saldana, Cliff Curtis, Michael Vartan, Lennie James, Jordi Mollà

Rating: 15  Running Time: 108 Mins

Luc Besson is one of those names that gets me to pay attention when I hear it attached to a movie. He has plenty of titles under his belt to be so deserving, both written and directed  – The Big Blue, Nikita, Leon: The Professional, and The Fifth Element, as well as writen and produced smaller movies such as The Transporter and Kiss Of The Dragon, all movies that I at the very least enjoyed and with one or two, fell in love with. Colombiana is the latest of his writing and producing titles, being directed by Oliver Megaton who had previously directed the third Transporter movie, so I had a sense of what to expect.

The movie opens in Bogota, Columbia, 20 years ago, where a man pays off his outstanding debts to drug lord Don Luis in order to be out of the drug business. After being allowed to leave peacefully and realising it was under false pretences, the man rushes home to his wife and his 10 year old daughter, Cataleya, and hurredly begins to pack their belongings to leave, giving her a small flash memory chip and instructions to follow should anything happen to him.

Before they can leave though, Don Luis’ men arrive, led by a man named Marco, who kills Cataleya’s parents in front of her. Escaping from the men, she follows the instructions left to her and finds her way to the U.S. where she meets up with her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis) who is involved with the local criminal underworld, tries to enroll her in school under false details so she can lead a normal life. Cataleyna though has different ideas, asking him to teach her to be a killer, to which he eventually agrees. The movie then cuts to present day, where Don Luis, now living in the U.S. with the protection of the C.I.A. and under an alias, starts to see reports in the papers about his previous employees, killed with a image of a flower, the Cataleya, drawn on their chests.

As I stated, being a follower of Besson’s movies, both directed and produced, I had a fair idea what to expect going in to this movie. The story and character development is present, but takes a back seat to the action when an action set piece is on screen, making for a fairly enjoyable B-class action movie. Zoe Saldana is well cast in the lead role (as is Amandla Stenberg who plays 10 year old Cataleya for the initial 15-20 mins), with Curtis being given a decent supporting part, plus additional support from Lennie James as an F.B.I. agent who is trying to track the killer who has so far killed over 20 former drug dealers.

Michael Vartan is also there in supporting role as a potential love interest that is a largely thankless role, yet his scenes with Saldana bring a gravitas to her character’s distancing herself from having a relationship as a result of her childhood. The main villain and henchman played by Jordi Mollà (Bad Boys 2), though shown in the opening as the killer of Cataleya’s parents, really could have done with a little more development just to flesh the part out a little more, there’s also the wasted part of a C.I.A. agent who’s in league with Don Luis, played by a frankly forgettable Callum Blue (this seems to be a failing of Besson given his more recent pieces – shame he couldn’t tap into the same depths that he did for Gary Oldman’s Stansfield in Leon: The Professional).

The pacing of the movie for the most part runs fairly smoothly, though does slightly lag in the middle. The editing in particular during a scene where Saldana is sneaking around a police station without being spotted, makes for a tense action scene that has little action, but maintains a decent level of thrill. The transition between scenes of character development and action though, could do with some work, with the suddern jump into an action setpiece sometimes coming too abruptly as to be slightly jarring.

Overall, if you are aware of the previous movies of this kind that have had Besson involved but not directing, you will know the kind of movie to expect, though on this occasion it did not have that european feel to it, which is a nice change. Most who did like movies like The Transporter, and Kiss Of The Dragon should find this as entertaining, but those who didn’t should give this a miss, or wait until the DVD release for a cheap night’s entertainment as a rental title.

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