Colombiana - 107min – PG-13
As I watch more movies I have noticed that film makers have signature movies they work really well with. Luc Besson uses the same elements in this movie that worked well in others. If you take a Dash of District B13, mix in some elements of Leon: the Professional and finish off with La Femme Nikita, you have Colombiana. Yes, you might look at this opening line and think “so nothing new or original”. Some of the action is the same but this movie does stand out as it’s a different story with these elements not a rehash. I know… I know, you are thinking “how can you have the same elements and not be a rehash”? Well let’s look at it this way. Action scenes can only be done so many ways, and there are no new ideas. The only newness to them is how you string them together. Besson uses these elements like a master chef blends together ingredients that everyone loves. This movie gets a green light from me. I truly enjoyed the ride this film took me on.
This story surrounds the main character Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) who at a young age witnessed her family being killed by a crime lord in Columbia. She escapes to Chicago to her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis). He raises her as his own, and helps her work toward what she wants most. She wants to exact revenge on the man who killed her family. Her uncle is involved with the criminal elements in Chicago and provides her with training and guidance. The movie takes us on a rollercoaster ride through her revenge. During the film she struggles with maintaining a relationship with her “boyfriend” Danny(Michael Vartan) and keeping her real life secret from him. She seems like a person who has had her childhood stolen from her and I wonder who she is, or would be, if she had not been subjected to this hardship.
Saladana does an excellent job of bringing the complexity of the character to the screen. Her cold calculating mind works over time but she still shows her vulnerability as a human. You see her struggle with her own identity in a few scenes and she knows that she can’t have a “normal” life. The relationship she has with Danny is a great role reversal, typically the man is the mysterious one and the woman wants more from them. Their dynamic is a switch and it works.
The actions scenes are well timed and they fit together wonderfully. I loved the shots of the locations; the establishing shots brought the settings into clear focus. Besson does action well; I am never disappointed by his films. Well I can’t say that, there are a few that are not as good as others but not everyone can be a hit. One thing that always stands true is his attention to the action. He does do action well. Before I started looking at movies more closely I had no Idea that many of the movies that I really liked in this genera were made by him. Memo to me: write about the merits of his films on future IMHO post.
Warring Spoilers follow: Top Secret eyes only beyond this point. !!
The opening scene where Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) makes a break for it was well done; it did not have the typical free running punch that some of his films have had. It was good but I think it could have been done with more punch. Perhaps I expect more than I should from a 13 year old. She did a great job of taking on this fast paced run from the bad guys her performance does not disappoint.
I thought that her being outed to the police was a hard scene to watch, I knew that it was a bad idea for him to take a picture but I was not expecting his friend to have an “in” at the police department. - The dominoes then fall from there. I think it was hard to watch because I knew what problems that meant for her. That led to another good change of perspective moment was when Ross (Lennie James) the FBI Agent was cretin it was not a woman until he got a match from the two photos.
Jordi Mollà was good as Marco the heavy enforcer for the big bad guy, he has a supremely creepy calm I am going to kill you voice.
Anyone who keeps sharks in a pool deserves whatever they get. Just sayin'.
This week I ask you what was your favorite Luc Besson film?