“ Genre: Action & Adventure / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Olivier Megaton / Actors: Zoë Saldana, Michael Vartan, Cliff Curtis, Lennie James, Callum Blue ... / DVD released 2012-01-09 at Entertainment in Video / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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Zoe Saldana has become the latest actress to push the bottom of the A listers in Hollywood, with a string of films featuring her as the lead female. Colombiana focuses almost solely on her character, an assassin named Cataleya out for revenge for the killing of her family when she was a little girl. Trying to smoke out the drug baron who ordered their deaths, she has racked up a series of 22 kills in the hope that the authorities will release them to the media and her enemy will react.
The opening scenes form the basis for the film, set in early 90s Colombia, and we see a lengthy scene where Cataleya's father cuts his ties with boss Don Luis and subsequently incurs his wrath. It takes about half an hour for Cataleya to escape to the US, find her uncle and for the predictable time change to the present day to happen, and while sometimes this would be too much, I felt this provided a really strong base for the film. It was fast paced and entertaining, with a few key scenes for later on in the film and cleverly directed.
Once the real action starts with Cataleya as an adult assassin, it's high entertainment and weak plot as per the standard action film. I didn't feel this broke any boundaries, but nor would it be comparable to Nikita for example. Saldana provides a unique character and the key thing really is that the main focus on characters is smouldered somewhat by the anxious camera and frenetic soundtrack. The action comes thick and fast, the acting interloping between fast paced scenes. I guess the slower and languid opening story setter when Cataleya was younger allows for less plot to develop later on. We learnt all we needed to early on, the rest is all action and music.
It's standard and nothing special, although a very solid action film. I was impressed with the fight choreography, and luckily any attempt at romantic involvement for Cataleya was kept relevant to the main plot and wasn't just for the sake of having a love interest. So often you get the romantic side that adds a comedy element and almost ruins the atmosphere of the film, but here everything seems relevant and it actually makes a calming and clear plot to follow and an entertaining film to watch as the time ticks by.
I've already mentioned the music, but it does actually have a huge impact on the film. It sets the atmosphere and matches the camera pace very well throughout the film. I think this is something often missed in action films, with fast paced music often thrown in with little or nor precision. Here, though, it was clear that it was specifically placed, the more sinister music used for the sneakier and stealth parts of the film, while the faster paced stuff was good when it was all out action.
Saldana holds this together well and it's also well directed. I enjoyed this film, and while it wasn't and was never going to be anything special, it's very solid and something I'd happily recommend.
***Film Only Review***
Set in the backdrop of Mexico we meet young Cataleya, a beautiful young girl named after a flower distinct to the district of Colombia and a flower grown by her grandmother. Her father a partner of drug lord and notorious gangster Don Luis has gotten into a disagreement. After parting on friendly terms, he knows Don Luis has called for the murders of their family, our loving father gives young Cataleya 3 things: an address to go to on a business card, a MicroSim which he tells her is her "passport" to give to the person at the named place on the business card, and later an address in Chicago to go to where she will be safe.
Looking like an innocent and cute young school girl there is much more to Cataleya than meets the eye. She manages to escape the men who kill both her parents, stabbing one man in the hand after he asks her for what belongs to Don Luis. Swallowing the MicroSim and finding her way to the US Embassy in Mexico she forces herself to be sick to retrieve the data and sure enough she is then sent to Miami as an orphan after telling the man she knows it is her passport.
She then gives the piece of paper with a Chicago address to a taxi driver and she finds her way to her uncle "Tio" Emilio who after believing her to be dead has vowed to look after her. She discovers his own son has been killed When asked what she wants to be when she's older, she boldly tells Emilio "I want to be a killer." With no interest in school Emilio convinces her she needs to be smart and learn the basics in school to become a successful killer.
Fast forward 15 years and young Cataleya is now a highly paid assassin, assigned work from Emilio. Little known to him, she is also killing anyone associated with her parents murders, or acquaintances of Don Luis in order to draw him out, her signature being drawing the Cataleya flower on their chest before shooting them. With The FBI hot on her trail for these 22 signature killings in last 4 years all with the same motive and also Don Luis' people trying to smoke her out our sexy assassin has a hard job on her hands...
I remember when this film was in the cinema I had seen the trailers for it, but wasn't sure if it was for me. However, since it was on Sky+ this week I thought I'd give it a watch and I am glad I did! Zoe Saldana is an amazing actress and does a great performance as a troubled soul seeking revenge for her parent's whilst also being completely alone and trying to form a fragile relationship with a man whilst not letting him know anything about her, not even her real name.
One thing I most liked about this film was the girl power element. She is a woman on a mission and doesn't hold back and tears all the men in this film apart! Literally in one scene she manages to use toothbrushes as a weapon with sheer skill and power. Packed full of action, the film wastes no time in setting the scene and each scene is more gripping and intriguing than the last and I thoroughly enjoyed watching every minute of it. The storyline is well executed and believable and as she loses those near and dear to her it is an emotional watch and Zoe brings life to her character emphatically.
Filled with government corruption and scheming ways I think this film is original in it's execution although I am sure a slightly regurgitated concept. My only gripe with this film, is that some aspects are left slightly open ended. It never fully explains what is on the MicroSim, just that it is something incriminating for Don Luis although he is not apprehended but relocated to USA and given CIA protection (clearly something to do with raking in profits from his illegal doings). We also never completely learn what Cataleya's father has done to double cross Don Luis although this could be due to me not paying 100% attention, and knowing my luck watching it a second time around I will catch some snippet of info I have missed the first time round. I also felt the last few scenes of the film were rushed to bring it to an abrupt close when it could have been slightly longer to make the film feel more fluent, but it did still cover all points so the ending still made sense.
Nevertheless it is a brilliant watch and I would thoroughly recommend watching it on an evening in with some popcorn on the sofa. I wouldn't necessarily buy it on DVD as I am actually quite reluctant to buy most films on DVD as usually after seeing them once I cannot watch it again without good reasoning (my same theory on not believing in going on the same holiday destination twice, might aswell experience something new right??) but I would still give it 5 out of 5 stars!