When it comes to big, dumb action movies, there may not be a man whose name is as attached to the genre as Luc Besson. Having been a big fan since seeing The Fifth Element at a local dollar theater, he’s been adding the word fun to the proceedings as well; at least for the most part. Sometimes when he’s not in the director’s chair, his screenplays (co-writing with long standing buddy Robert Mark Kamen) can be led astray (From Paris with Love, and the worst offender: our own remake of his original Taxi). Now we have another preposterous laughathon to add to his oeuvre with Colombiana which seems to be a melting pot of his IMDB resume.
Beginning in 1992, there’s a meeting of the minds happening between Fabio (Jesse Borrego) and Marco (Jordi Mollà). Of course things turn south, and Marco orders Fabio to be killed but not before he makes it home to his wife Alicia (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and eight-year-old daughter Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg). Fabio and Alicia are killed offscreen while Cataleya sits at the kitchen table looking comatose. Marco approaches her, asking for something her father gave her that belongs to Don Luis (Beto Benites). Instead of playing nice, Cataleya stabs Marco in the hand, announces she will see Don Luis to his death, and leads Marco’s cronies on a parkour-infused street chase where she runs to the U.S. Embassy and offers up her father’s information in exchange for a passport to the States.
After landing in Chicago, Cataleya hops a bus to Chicago to find her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis), demanding that he teach her how to be a professional, err… killer, like himself. Emilio forces her to go to school in exchange for future services. Cutting to 15 years later (played in adult form by Zoe Saldana) Cataleya is on the prowl taking out anyone connected to Don Luis leaving drawings of orchids on their chest, along with a few bullet holes. Marco is trying to find out who’s behind the murders along with Special Agent Ross (Lennie James). Ross thinks he is looking for a man (at one point ignorantly saying there’s no way a woman could be behind 22 murders), but Marco knows that Cataleya has come for revenge upon Don Luis and hopes that his extradition in New Orleans is a safe enough hiding spot.
There’s also bits sprinkled about involving Cataleya and her (maybe more than a) friend with benefits Danny (Michael Vartan), but these are obviously padding, leading up to a beyond-ludicrous turn of events in the third act.
Director Olivier Megaton may have been able to squeeze a few more drops of fun from the third Transporter film, but what he brings here are mostly moments of hilarious unintentional humor and action played with ranging styles. Everything gets thrown in the kitchen sink here, from the Ridley Scott/MTV quick-cut to a fight scene which seems to have been filmed with a strobe light.
Typically I adore these types of films, but lately the good ones are becoming further and fewer between. Even Michael Bay has been trying way too hard lately causing what used to be a genre in and of itself, big dumb fun, is getting increasingly just bigger and even more unfortunately, dumber. If someone could please remember to bring the fun back (and more than just having Saldana dance around in her short shorts and sucking on a lollipop) maybe Colombiana could have aspired to be a call back to the action movies of yore. As it stands, it’s sadly just another sign of the fizzling summer movie season.
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