Directed by: Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3)
Starring: Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan, Callum Blue
With Colombiana, pseudonymical director Olivier Megaton has what might be the dumbest movie of the year. I don’t have an issue with dumb movies as long as they’re entertaining. Megaton’s last film, Transporter 3—with its plot centered around high-speed car chases and toxic waste—is a good example of this kind of film done right. Be ridiculous and silly, just don’t give me a chance to sit back and overthink what’s happening up onscreen. Colombiana—with its incredibly lazy screenplay by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen—is a flat-lined, dull, leery miasma of worn-out action tropes suffering from a severe lack of anything that could be mistaken for clever.
The film opens with a yawn-inducing premise about a Colombian husband (Jesse Borrego, The New World) and wife (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) being offed by a crime lord (Beto Benites), only to have the couple’s daughter Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) escape in a surprise fit of violence. The subsequent chase is well done and somewhat exciting, if unoriginal (we’re still putting Parkour in movies?), but this is before the plot settles in.
Jumping forward a couple of decades, Cataleya (now all grown up and played by Zoe Saldana) has been trained as a killer and is now in the hitman business with her uncle (Cliff Curtis, The Last Airbender), jet-setting around the country, offing people for large sums of money. She does these jobs in incredibly convoluted, vaguely clever ways (clever in that the screenplay manhandles credulity to make it all fit), like pretending to be a drunk driver so she can sneak into jail and eliminate of her target. Once she’s succeeded, she leaves her calling card—a lipstick drawing of her namesake, a Cattleya orchid, on their chests—in an attempt to draw out the Colombian gangsters she seeks revenge against.
At this point, the film’s wanton disregard for giving a damn about being entertaining starts to seep in. The film sputters around from action piece to action piece as Cataleya not only offs the evil Colombians, but also evades the world’s dumbest cops. These are FBI agents with the type of movie supercomputers that can track phone calls and fingerprints, but no one ever thinks—after 22 murders—to figure out that maybe there’s something significant about this flower that the mystery killer has been drawing on her victims.
This—among other things—is just a small percentage of how little this movie cares. There’s no attempt at characterization beyond standard character types—the badass chick, the hunky boyfriend, the evil crime boss—moving through a plot composed of scenes and twists borrowed from other action movies. Colombiana seems like a film made as an excuse for a hot chick to carry around a big gun for 107 minutes. The thing is, even that would be excusable if Colombiana had even a modicum of entertainment value as a fun, dumb action movie. Sadly, it doesn’t. Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, intense sequences of action, sexuality and brief strong language