'Colombiana' Review: Cheesy Fun

“Colombiana” is a deeply-flawed film. Its dialogue is mediocre, its plot is exaggerated, and some of its action sequences leave a lot to be desired. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it. Despite its weaknesses, I found “Colombiana” to be a highly watchable and energetic movie experience.

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The plot concerns a young woman named Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg), whose parents are killed at her own doorstep. The little girl is left sitting at her kitchen table as one of her parent’s assassins arrives to interrogate her about a missing disk. It looks like Cataleya is about to be killed herself but before that can happen, she viciously attacks her interrogator and races to safety in an over-the-top action sequence that Jason Bourne would be jealous of.

After her escape, Cataleya moves to the United States and decides to become an assassin. When she says “I want to be a killer,” her relatives barely flinch at the revelation. However, when she decides that she doesn’t want to go to school, her uncle goes berserk and fires a few shots outside of her school in plain daylight. You have to be smart to be an assassin, he seems to be saying, while proving that the opposite is also true. Eventually, the grown Cataleya (played by Zoe Saldana) decides to seek revenge against the people who killed her parents.

There is a lot to mock and criticize in “Colombiana” but the story offers a few twists and some inventive action sequences. In one particularly exciting scene, a "drunk" Cataleya is arrested for crashing into a police car. After being locked in a prison cell, she finds a way to escape so that she can seek vengeance against a fellow inmate who is locked up in another section of the prison. Cataleya's escape and a the chase scene that follows are particularly well-done.

Later on, Cataleya faces off against the government bureaucrats who stand in the way of her finding her parents' killers. The tough woman is willing to spare no one in her thirst for revenge and when people stand in her way, she finds a way to get them to change course.

Watching the film, I was reminded of “The Mechanic” from earlier this year. I was greatly disappointed in that Jason Statham thriller with its grotesque violence and its ridiculous plot twists. In the world of assassin stories, “Colombiana” is a much better film. There is some inane and laughable dialogue in "Colombiana" but those flaws are overcome by a few inventive scenes and a couple of good twists. It's a guilty pleasure for filmgoers who want a fun assassin movie that doesn't try to be anything that it's not.

It should be noted that the final action sequence was the most disappointing scene in the entire story. It's atrociously filmed and difficult to follow. The camera bounces around the action as two main characters viciously fight each other. Filmed like Paul Greengrass on steroids, it is a complete mess.

As I’ve noted, there’s a lot to dislike about “Colombiana,” but despite its flaws, I still enjoyed it. It’s a guilty pleasure and proves that a few inventive sequences and some fun action can be enough to lift a typical assassin film into something more.


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