Movie review – Female assassin gets a reboot

2011-09-16 08:10

Film: Colombiana (Nu Metro)
Director: Olivier Megaton
Featuring: Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan, Lennie James and Cliff Curtis
Rating: 7/10

Filmmaker Luc Besson returns to a theme close to his heart – that of the assassin – in Colombiana.

Having made his name with two assassin movies – Point of No Return with Bridget Fonda, which was the Hollywood version of his French film La Femme Nikita, and The Professional, which starred Jean Reno and Natalie Portman as a child assassin – he gets the formula just right again.

This time, his sexy grim reaper is Zoe Saldana.

She plays Cataleya, a girl who grows up to be a vengeful killer after watching her family murdered before her eyes.

True, this isn’t the most original story line to come from the pens of Besson and his writing partner, Robert Mark Kamen, but it’s hard to resist all the same.

Kamen and Besson penned the Liam Neeson superthriller Taken and The Transporter trilogy, so they know how to put their action sequences together with panache.

As for Saldana, she does sexy effortlessly (remember her as Uhuru in the remake of Star Trek?).

She wields a gun with finesse, as she did in The Losers.

Her role as Neytiri in James Cameron’s Avatar means that everyone knows her name, so she is bankable at the box office.

New Zealand-born Cliff Curtis is her uncle and trainer in the art of killing, while TV regular Lennie James is the FBI agent on Cataleya’s track as she leaves a trail of dead bodies in her search for her parents’ executioners.

James’s most recent turn was, funnily enough, as the assassin Baptiste in TV’s Human Target.

Of course the writers could not resist ensuring that Cataleya only kills nasty villains. This way, the audience is free to root for the damaged and traumatised young woman as she plans the demise of others.

To add to her humanity, she has a boyfriend, played by Alias’s Michael Vartan, who hasn’t a clue who she is.

She is the daughter of a drug lord and her uncle is a killer, but this is glossed over as director Olivier Megaton builds rapport between his heroine and his audience.

Colombiana is more about looking pretty and getting the set pieces really smoking hot than it is about the plot, but all in all it’s a film with an irresistible leading lady and there’s always something satisfying about a bit of vicarious vigilantism (even though we all know it’s wrong). 

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