Someone get Zoe Saldana a sandwich….
Boring, predictable, lazy and completely unbelievable all wrapped up into one under-2 hour movie.
That explains Colombiana starring Zoe Saldana in a nutshell. When I watch movies, I try not to go in with a rating already in my mind. It’s almost impossible to do though. Everyone goes in with expectations for movies. For Colombiana, I was really hoping that I would be able to give this movie a low Matinee score. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth.
Colombiana starts off with a young Cataleya Restrepo (Amandla Stenberg) watching as her parents are killed in front of her by Marco (Jordi Molla) on orders by Don Luis (Beto Benites). Cataleya escapes Colombia to go live with her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis). When Emilio asks Cataleya what she wants to be when she grows up, she tells him she wants to be a killer. Fast forward some years and Cataleya has become an assassin, leaving clues to draw out Don Luis who is now relocated to the US by the CIA.
I had low expectations for this movie and yet somehow after leaving the theater I felt as if I still set them too high. There are so many things wrong with this movie, which really bothers me because while watching it, I was trying so hard to excuse all the flaws but just became overwhelmed. The most glaring and obvious flaw is the lack of any type of character development. If this movie was just trying to be a straight mind-less popcorn action flick, then character development would not have been such a big deal to me. However, this movie is not trying to be a mind-less action film. The Director, Oliver Megaton, clearly wants the audience to feel the emotional pain and suffering of Cataleya, yet he does absolutely nothing to build that up. First and foremost being the fact that we are never given a reason why Cataleya’s parents are killed. We know almost nothing about them or Don Luis. Cataleya is allowed to go to the US because she hands off a very important file from her father that clearly implicates Luis in something, but we are never told what it is. I probably could have excused the vagueness if the same thing wasn’t done with Cataleya’s uncle Emilio. When he is introduced, it is clear that he is some kind of gangster of some importance. At one point he fires his gun at a random car in the middle of the day, in front of a school and a bunch of people. When a person can do that in broad daylight and no one points them out, it’s clear they have some pull in the community. Right before that scene, he bribes the principal of the school to let Cataleya in mid-semester. Yet, never are we told what he actually does. The first time the movie writers did this (Cataleya’s parents), I could excuse it. But when Emilio and Don Luis, the two people most responsible for Cataleya becoming a cold blooded assassin are given absolutely no depth, it’s inexcusable. At one point Danny (Michael Vartan), Cataleya’s love interest, comments on how she keeps in at a distance and I found that to be so profound because that’s actually how the entire movie was. The audience gets Cataleya’s rage but not much else. Characters of significance just appear on screen with no real introduction leaving the audience feeling nothing when they are killed.
Then there’s Zoe Saldana. I like Ms. Saldana…I do…but not in this movie. I was hoping she could be a new female action star but this movie does not bode well for that thought. I do not understand the logic of making her so skinny in this movie she looks sick. She’s supposed to be a world class assassin, yet she looks like she’s one of the starving contestants on America’s Next Top Model. Every time she puts on a catsuit, the image of seeing her ribs every time she took a breath was distracting. Acting wise, her performance was pretty pedestrian but I’m not sure if that was her acting or just the fact that on screen she just did not look believable. There’s one scene in particular where she’s walking around with a sniper rifle that I swear is bigger than she is. I know that in action movies the saying is “bigger is better”, but in this case it is really pushing the audience to believe too much when you have Zoe Saldana, who makes Calista Flockhart seem ‘big boned’, carrying around sniper rifles as big as she is and fully automatic rifles. It’s completely unbelievable. Also, no attempt is made to really explain the training, schooling or development of Cataleya from the young girl to the assassin she grew into. None. Just like how Elaine “yadda yadda’d” sex on that episode of Seinfeld, this film “yadda yaddas” Cataleya’s training and development. The result is losing any emotional connection one might have had when her parents were killed and trying to figure out just why we should even care.
And finally there’s the action, which I’m sad to say was a real bore. Conan the Barbarian at least had gratuitous violence and blood to at least smack the audience back to being awake…Colombiana, which is PG-13, has none of that. The best action sequence in the entire movie is at the beginning with Amandla Stenberg as the young Cataleya, escaping Luis’ men. Honestly, Megaton seemed more interested in showing us how flexible Saldana is crawling through ventilation ducts than actually showing her actually in an action. There’s also one scene where he commits the fatal flaw of cutting away from the actually fighting and then bringing the audience back to see a bunch of bodies on the ground. I really hate that film making technique, especially in movies like this because it leaves me feeling cheated. I’m left knowing I missed something good and I probably won’t see anything better.
As if all that wasn’t bad enough, I still was not going to write this entire movie off. Before the end, I was still telling myself that I might be able to squeeze out a really low matinee for this movie. But then I watch the end of this movie and I really felt as if the film was insulting me. This movie could have redeemed itself by at least trying something new and fresh. Instead it unfolds in the most predictable way. Never in my life have I been so bored watching a gun fight with automatic weapon.
This movie is a 1 out of 5. I flirted with giving it a Fuck You, but even with her need of an All-You-Can-Eat buffet, Zoe Saldana is still sexy and this movie does have its moments (like the very beginning). Outside of that though, there’s not much else redeemable about this movie at all outside of the fact that if you do go to see it, it’s runtime is under 2 hours, so you won’t waste all your time seeing it.