COLOMBIANA (Olivier Megaton, 2011)
COLOMBIANA is full of promise- Firstly, Zoe Saldana seems poised for lead material for an action vehicle given her strong supporting presence in AVATAR, STAR TREK, and THE LOSERS; secondly, the revenge genre never gets old, and; finally, the trailer tells us the movie is loaded with bullets, explosions and what have yous.
In respect, COLOMBIANA manages to thrill during its first act, where we witness the young Cataleya survive his parents' murder and eventually escape to America to take shelter under his uncle (Cliff Curtis).
Curtis seems off here. There is something wrong with his accent, and his acting seems full of effort, as if trying too hard (it shows).
As Cataleya grows up (Zoe Saldana), we follow her as she accepts kill missions for money, while sending messages to flush out her father's killers, much to the dismay of her uncle. In between, her clueless lover (Michael Vartan playing his ALIAS character, oddly enough) and the cops are thrown in a wild loop.
With gunfights this gratuitous, the film will sure satisfy hardcore action fans, but without an original story to complement it with, the movie falls flat on its face. Luc Besson is trying to recreate the glory of his NIKITA, and while NIKITA became a cult film for all its restraint and minimal action (the trick is in the suspenseful buildup of the scenes), COLOMBIANA remains a recycled genre movie. Cataleya from the beginning up until the end is unrepentant and so hell bent on revenge that we never fully see her humanity. Arrogant and reckless, we never see her pay for her rash actions. There is an attempt by Besson (and co-writer Robert Mark Kamen) but that story arc is so cliche it belongs in an antique shop. And let us not begin discussing the plot holes.