Colombiana (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Colombiana (2011)

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Colombiana opens on a meeting between drug dealers, who are friends and totally not enemies, discussing their awesome friendship while Ave Maria plays in the background. I think the only way to cram in more cliches is to have it open on a dark and stormy night. And, much like you might suspect, it only got worse from there.

Colombiana is an action thriller wherein the beautiful contract killer, Cataleya (Zoe Saldana), seeks revenge for the murder of her parents. The film follows her exploits as she hunts down the drug dealers who robbed her of her childhood while trying to avoid both the FBI and her boyfriend's inquiries about her past. When it comes to revenge flicks, you really don't need much more than that, so long as the action is satisfying and the script is at least competent. Sadly, Colombiana has neither of these going for it. It is a series of dull, uninspired action scene strung together more by contrivance than plot.

"On second thought, maybe you should forget where you came from..."

The action sequences in Colombiana all seem to follow the same, stale pattern. Cataleya puts on sexy outfit, kills some guys off-camera, then kills her target after droning out a couple lines of dialog so cliched it'd make David Caruso's CSI zinger-glasses fly off in shame. Cut, paste, repeat. And the action we do get isn't even particularly impressive. Have you have seen an action/spy flick in the past 50 years? Congratulations, you have seen everything Colombiana has to offer, only probably done better! Before this film, I didn't even know that you could make a boring parkour sequence.

The plot of Colombiana suffers from what can only be complete ignorance of how the world actually works. Even CSI doesn't play this fast and loose with how law enforcement works. How can the FBI find Cataleya with only a partial photograph to work with? HOLOGRAM COMPUTERS! When they finally do track her down, how will they break into her apartment? With a battering ram? No, C-4, because naturally when breaching a suspects door you want to blow-up half of their apartment in the process! What do you mean that isn't routine procedure for detaining suspects for questioning?

Yeah, I know how you feel, man.

Then again, the criminals aren't with out their own set of advantages. Early on, Cataleya's uncle shows her just how violent the world can be when he guns down some people in front of her elementary school. Broad daylight, at least a dozen witnesses, and cops are on the scene almost immediately, so how does he escape? Simple; he just walks away. I suppose he just collected a couple of those get-out-of-jail stars that liter the streets of Grand Theft Auto or something.

Immediately following this scene, he ran into a clothing store and changed his hat so the cops couldn't find him. Then his cousin took him bowling.

Hell, while most of Cataleya's criminal career makes just about as much sense, the moment where she finally gets her revenge takes the cake. I'd really hate to spoil it (really I just hate to remember it) but suffice to say it doesn't make a lick of sense unless she possess some sort of precognitive powers or at least control over space and time. I won't even go into all the technological and historical anachronisms. Look, there's nothing wrong with a little suspension of disbelief if it makes the action more impressive or the plot more entertaining, but it feels like the writers of Colombiana just did bother thinking of even half-way rational explanations as to why Cataleya does any of the shit she does.

He's kind of like Gary Oldman's character from 'Leon', but with out the charm or personality or relevance to the story or...

Compounding upon this, Colombiana's characters are just as dumb as the plot. The FBI agent charged with tracking down the mysterous serial murderer (hint: it's Cataleya!) drills into his team that since they know very little about this killer, every possible suspect must be investigated no matter what. A scene later he instantly dismisses Cataleya as a suspect because NO WAY could a WOMAN possible be the killer! Similarly, the hired killer tasked with finding Cataleya as a child yells as his flunkies when they take potshot at her, insisting that they “need her alive.” Of course in the next scene he, you guessed it, empties most of a clip into the sewer grate Cataleya just ducked into, so either he's an idiot or he's got the memory of a goldfish. Honestly, in a film like this, both answers seem likely.

The final nail in the Colombiana coffin is how the experience feels neutered to the point that it could just as well have been a pilot for a sexy new WB action show. If you want your audience to feel the impact of Cataleya's parents' deaths, or the guilty exhilaration as she gets her bloody revenge, it stands to reason that you should probably show it, not just infer it happening somewhere off-camera. But I suppose if you put too much violence and blood in there then you won't get your PG-13 rating and you won't get the $8 of all those tweenagers who want to see Zoe Saldana's sideboob. Come to think of it, I've seen better sex and action on the WB.

In your black nylon tights, fighting for your rights...

Speaking of Ms. Saldana, I really wanted to like her in this film. She clearly got into the role and certainly looks the part of sexy, cold-blooded killer. Sadly, there just isn't much to Cataleya's character other than being driven by revenge. I guess she's supposed to be super-smart in the way she can expertly track-down and dispatch her targets, but since we never really see how she does this, it's had to tell is she's really, really good or just really, really lucky. Plus, she suffers from the same bouts of temporary stupidity as her antagonists when the plot calls for it. When Cataleya's uncle warns her to stop leaving a calling card on the bodies of her victims because it could jeopardize him and the rest of her extended family, Cataleya all but rolls her eyes and invite him to “talk to the hand.” Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what happens to her family in act three?

This is where she came from. I think. Damn, I guess I forgot!

You'd really think that someone trained as a world-class killer, someone who can sneak into a police station, murder her target and sneak back out without raising suspicion, would understand the risks of pissing-off a drug lord who has already killed the rest of her family. You'd think that, but then you didn't write Colombiana.

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Posted by Jacob

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