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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Colombiana (review)

Zoe Saldana in Colombiana

Dead Sexy

Colombiana fofana, Zoe Saldana banana. C’mon, sing it with me! C’mon! It makes more sense than the movie, and it’s more entertaining to boot.

And that’s given the fact that it’s all brought to you by screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, who jointly have given us some of the finest fetishizing of females in recent years — The Fifth Element, Taken — and director Olivier Megaton, who ejected Transporter 3 and in all seriousness wants you think of atomic bombs when you think of him. Some would consider those positives, not negatives. Still, I think even those folks would do more laughing than anything else here.
Colombiana is not intended as a comedy.

It’s pretty clear what is intended by the title, however. You know how americana is all mom and baseball and apple pie? Well, colombiana — the essential essence of Colombia — is clearly drug kingpins, professional killers, and semiautomatic weapons. Everyone knows this is true. Also: the professional killers are pretty stupid, even when they do their jobs well. Because what does adorable little Cataleya (cute Amandla Stenberg — ooo! she’s gonna be Rue in Hunger Games!) witness when she’s but 10 years old? Her father, the pet assassin of a Bogota druglord, has just handed in his resignation, and then he (and his wife, Cataleya’s mother) are shot dead in front of her. Cuz that’s what happens when you try to resign from being a professional killer. And Dad knew this, because he gives this hilariously on-the-nose speech after the exit interview:

Bastard thinks I’m an idiot, playing it all mellow and shit. If he would have yelled and screamed and threatened to kill my whole family it would have been better.

Dad knew what was coming, and he failed to, you know, get his wife and child out of the country or at least out of the apartment where they are known to live. It’s astonishing that he survived in his line of work as long as he did.

The only shocking thing about Colombiana, which is proposed as a nonstop action-packed emotional thrill ride of blood and mayhem and family tenderness: the thought that 1992 is 20 years ago! *gasp* Cuz that’s when little Cataleya escaped with her life and a determination to grow up and follow in Daddy’s footsteps and become a professional killer and take vengeance upon those who murdered her parents. It’s sweet, because her father’s dying words are “Never forget where you came from,” and she doesn’t. It’s so colombiana. I’m sure the fine law-abiding people of Colombia are so proud.

If I thought it was preposterous how a terrified 10-year-old is able to make her own way to Chicago from Bogota, that’s nothing to what happens once she gets there, and her uncle (Cliff Curtis: The Last Airbender, Push) does things like shooting up, in front of dozens of witnesses, the neighborhood near the school he’s just enrolled the kid in, just to make a point to her. It’s a touching moment of family bonding. Then Cataleya grows up to be Zoe Saldana (Takers, The Losers), and gets to run around killing people in tiny cutoffs and tank top, in between taking sexy showers and sexy-breaking-and-entering her boyfriend’s (Michael Vartan: Monster-in-Law, One Hour Photo) apartment to surprise him. She kills people occassionally, too, sometimes as a for-hire hitman partnered with her uncle — see! she never forgot where she came from — and sometimes just for fun, revenge for Mom and Dad. Often these escapades require that she have advanced knowledge of random events she couldn’t possibly have planned for, but what the hell! She’s a sexy assassin! And obviously psychic, too.

It’s all so cool! Never mind that it doesn’t make sense. Colombiana is, among many other things, the sort of movie in which the hardboiled FBI agent (Lennie James: The Next Three Days, Jericho) who’s investigating the spate of rubouts of bad guys can grit out, “We’re not looking for a woman — it’s not possible!” and then literally in his next scene, he’s all “That’s her!”

I think the moral of the story is this: Don’t be Michael Vartan, a sensitive artist who doesn’t just want to fuck the mysterious sexy woman who sexy-breaks-and-enters but wants to, you know, talk too, and maybe have a real date once in a while. And definitely don’t take a photo of your sexy mysterious girlfriend while she’s sleeping, because then some random unidentified asshole friend of yours might email the photo to his cop sister-in-law — you know, just to do a background check, like any friend would do — because she might turn out to be a professional killer. And then where will you be?


US/Canada release date: Aug 26 2011 | UK release date: Sep 9 2011

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated HNLK (contains intense sequences of half-naked lady killer)
MPAA: rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, intense sequences of action, sexuality and brief strong language
BBFC: rated 15 (contains strong language and violence)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine

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