Nobody ever explains in the plot line in which “parents are killed in front of children” that those now responsible for said child should put the poor thing into some intense counseling. Had this happened, maybe Bruce Wayne would’ve ended up discovering the cure for chicken pox rather than being a giant overdressed ninja-bat. Maybe Dexter would’ve gotten a job as a firefighter and saved kittens from trees rather than becoming the world’s most beloved serial killer. Like these famous characters, Colombiana’s main character could’ve used some time on the couch, though then the world would be short one incredibly awesome movie.
Colombiana is Zoe Saldana’s first starring role. She’s ditched the skimpy red uniform from Star Trek and the million dollar computer animation from Avatar to pick up a pile of guns and start showing the world how awesome she is. Saldana plays Cataleya Restrepo, who got the Batman-type childhood when her Colombian mobster parents were killed right in front of her. She goes to live with her uncle in Chicago who is also in the family business of crime and trains to become an assassin so she can avenge her family. Lennie James (The Walking Dead, The Next Three Days) plays an FBI agent looking to take Saldana in, and Michael Vartan (Alias) plays her very confused boyfriend.
For an action movie, the film is stellar. Saldana does all her own stunts as she flips, kicks and jumps over everything and everyone that gets in her way. Gratefully the film skipped the cardinal sin of most action films of the last five years and did not have the Bourne series shaky camera issue. This does remove a lot of the gritty realism from the film, but it also allows audiences to actually see what’s going on in a scene for a change. With all the visceral combat moves Saldana pulls off, it’s definitely a welcome relief.
The film’s only real flaws come in parts where the story glazes over details. The film moves so fast that these details aren’t really noticed while in the theater, but afterwards some strange plot holes do show up. One is that for some reason, Saldana needed the FBI to make her hits public before she could go after the real guy, something about her trying to find him, but it’s not explained why she couldn’t just go to the guy who knew where he was and threaten his life straight out. Another is how the FBI managed to use facial recognition when they didn’t have a real picture of her face. Apparently facial imaging can now track someone’s head through shadows.
Despite the hairline cracks in the story, Colombiana is a fast-paced action drama thriller that keeps the audience interested from start to finish. There really isn’t a better place for a budding actress to show off her range than in something as complex and compelling as this film. Saldana is definitely going far, and fast at that.
Colombiana is rated PG-13 for lots of people dying and for Saldana wearing as little clothing as possible as often as she can.