Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Colombiana

The world needs more female action heroes.  Yeah they exist but they’re a bit few and far between.  Milla Jovovich probably counts with her roles in the Resident Evil films and others and Michelle Rodriguez, who’s known for playing almost exclusively tough chicks, might count if she ever actually starred in a film rather than play a supporting role…or actually survived the film. But in general we don’t really have lady action stars the way we have with the dudes.  And I’m not certain Zoe Saldana would have been my first choice to star in an action vehicle.  She’s so…skinny.  Seriously, she’s rail thin.  I can see bones, man.  Then again I never really thought of Liam Neeson as being any sort of action hero and yet he keeps getting cast in action films (Though truth be told Liam Neeson seems to say “yes” to any offer he gets considering he stars in about eleven thousand films a year.) 

Anyway Colombiana was directed by Olivier Megaton (Badass name) and billed was being made by the people who did 2008’s Taken, which was a surprisingly cool film.  This usually implies that the movies are similar since it has the same creative team.   However it has become obvious to me that they really just meant it shares the same producer which means…almost nothing for the quality of the film.   I wasn’t going to watch this movie but, wouldn’t you know it, every single movie I planned on seeing for the past month had left theatres by the time I was ready to go see one.  It was either this or Bucky Larson: Born to be Star.  Colombiana it is. 

Full review after the jump. 

Five minutes before she washes her dad's brains off her dress
A young girl named Cataleya has just watched her father and mother murdered by vicious Colombian gangsters.  Before he died he gave her the tools to get out of the country on the US government’s dollar.  Once in America she seeks out her uncle in Chicago in the hopes of him training her to be a killer; an assassin. Her long-term goal: kill the ones who killed her family. 

The action in this film, when it happens, is really fun.  That is the least that a movie like this should achieve and it certainly gets that right.  Also, despite what I said about Saldana being too skinny I have to say that the way her character works and moves as an assassin utilizing her small frame (She’s vey flexible) is pretty appropriate. I was actually pretty impressed that time was taken to showcase that. 

Unfortunately there’s really not much else the movie has going for it.  Now on the one hand good action might be all a movie like this really needs (See: Clash of the Titans remake) but even so they usually result in terrible films (See: Clash of the Titans remake).  First of all I really didn’t like Cataleya.   Zoe Saladana is fine; she’s a pretty good actor for the most part and it’s not like there’s was any problem with her performance.  I just think Cataleya is insanely unlikable.  This isn’t just a revenge movie where the protagonist kills their way through their ultimate enemy’s minions; Cataleya is a cold blooded killer who ends up being a serial killer more than a hit man (Even going as far as threatening to murder a good man’s family to achieve her goals).   She’s, at best, the classic definition of an antihero: a completely un-heroic protagonist.  On top of that she’s an extremely cocky and stupid in how she deals with her killings and her agenda of revenge, which comes back to haunt her in the worst possible way.  Dexter Morgan would have been appalled.

Cataleya about to shoot an innocent dude in the face. Probably
There are some pretty unbelievable aspects to this film’s plot as just about everyone in the film acts in either horrifyingly questionable ways or shockingly incompetent.  I think the worst culprit is the CIA who basically end up backing the kingpin villain because…um…the CIA is evil, I guess.  It’s not really clear.  The whole time I was watching this film I was rolling my eyes.  Speaking of eye rolling there’s a romantic subplot.  Why?  Berceuse’s its Hollywood, baby!  We always have to insert a love story in any piece of fiction we do!  Cataleya is involved with some dude who only real contribution to overall plot is that he accidently alerts the FBI to her presence.  I think what they were going for was to humanize Cataleya by putting her in a relationship with a dude that she liked but can’t bring herself to get close to, however it’s handled pretty awkwardly.  It seems more like extra excuse to show Saldana in as few articles of clothing as possible.  In that same mindset there’s an entire action sequence where she’s in her underwear fighting through an army of cops.  What the hell is the point of that?

The performances were mostly solid.  Like I said Saldana is fine.   The only problem I really had was the dude playing the mafia’s CIA contact, and I can’t even remember who played him or the character’s name, was he was almost cartoonish evil.  I was half-expecting him to twirl his mustache as he laughed about how the CIA is supporting a drug cartel.  Also, while this may be a bit nitpicky complaint, I was annoyed by the utter lack of Spanish in this film.  Everyone spoke English here, even when they were in Colombia.  It really, really took me out of the movie from basically the very beginning.  Would it be too hard to just have subtitles?  The Captain America movie was the same way with the Germans not speaking German even when no other nationalities were in the room and it bothered me to no end there as well.

This is a pretty bad movie, though it’s not horrendously so.  It does sort of feel more like a straight to DVD type of movie or film you catch at 5am on HBO rather than a major motion picture, so perhaps that’s why it feels probably worse than it is.  Plus it probably could have stood having a hard “R” rating so they could have gone further with the violence and swearing, but it’s likely that wouldn’t have helped it all that much.  In the end this film works best as an low thought action film that you watch and turn your brain off with the added bonus of having an attractive lady run around in skin tight outfits and/or half naked.  If that sounds like your cup of tea than good for you, but there are a lot of better action films out there.

What?  Guns again?
I give Colombiana 2 out 5 Adorable Pandas.


Pros 

-Good action

-Strong Female Lead

Cons 

-Main character isn’t likable at all

-Romantic subplot was superfluous

-Various plot points and characters are kind of stupid

-In a movie about Colombians how come hardly anyone speak

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