THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
Colombiana is not the first movie ever made about a hot female assassin, nor will it likely be the last. It seems like every few years, one of these comes down the pike: La Femme Nikita, Point of No Return, Kill Bill, etc. I guess we men are supposed to get aroused by the sight of a sexy woman kicking ass and killing bad guys. The ladies are presumably supposed to enjoy seeing an “empowered” woman. Sometimes one comes along with a new twist, such as the recent Hanna, whose female assassin was a teen girl. Even so, there's usually a predictable arc to them. Colombiana sticks to that arc as though its life depends on it.
Zoe Saldana stars as Cataleya, an assassin looking to exact revenge against – you guessed it - the crime lord who brutally murdered her parents when she was a child. She has spent the intervening years “sending a message” to the guy by killing various associates. The FBI knows about her actions but doesn't know who it's looking for. As the story goes on, they figure it out, and Cataleya has to finish her “mission” before getting caught.
Oh, there's a little more to it than that, but what's the point? The screenplay by Luc Besson and Mark Robert Kamen isn't interested in adding any original twists. It's content to give you the standard stuff: the relative (Cliff Curtis) who urges her to stop before she gets herself killed, the FBI agent who may be slightly sympathetic to her, and the guy she occasionally pops in to screw (Michael Vartan). This is a particularly baffling element. Cataleya of course refuses to talk about her background with him, or even give her real name. She shows up unannounced whenever she feels like it. Granted, Zoe Saldana is a gorgeous woman, but come on – do people really try to carry on relationships with partners who refuse to divulge anything about themselves?
A little more distressing is the plot's incessant reliance on outlandish coincidences and stretches of logic to get its main character to the finish line. This is the sort of movie where Cataleya can pick the lock on a jail cell in three seconds using only a bobby pin. (Really, Hollywood? We're still doing that?) Later in the film, the script needs to find a way to get her into an FBI profile-matching database, and so someone coincidentally takes her picture, which coincidentally ends up in an FBI computer. It's hard to get fully absorbed when you know the filmmakers are cheating like this.
To be fair, Zoe Saldana is a star in the making, who's always fun to watch. She does what she can with bland material. There are a couple of decent (but not astounding) action sequences near the end, too. Colombiana isn't a terrible movie; it just does as little as it has to. If you stumbled across it on cable late some Saturday night, you might be inclined to keep the channel on out of boredom. But that's all it is – a generic time killer that doesn't leave any kind of lasting impression.
( out of four)
Colombiana is rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, intense sequences of action, sexuality, and brief strong language. The running time is 1 hour and 47 minutes.