30 August 2011


Zoe Saldana portrays Cataleya in a scene from "Colombiana."
Early in “Colombiana,” young Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg), recently a witness to her parents' murder at the hands of a Columbian drug lord (Beto Benites), tells the man who has taken her in, an unspecified relative (Cliff Curtis), that she does not want to go to school; she wants to be only one thing: a killer. To make a point that never becomes clear, her uncle(?) pulls a gun, shoots up a random, passing car, causing it to crash (the innocent driver's fate is left a mystery), then continues the conversation—on a busy city street—in front of a school—as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

The movie, too, never gives another thought to this character's evil act and later tries to use him as a sort of conscience for its young heroine, who grows up to become Zoe Saldana (”Avatar,” “Star Trek”).

The adult Cataleya is a killer all right, one of the serial nature. She even leaves behind a signature at each of her victims, a cattleya, the variety of orchid for which she is named. Her body count tops 20, each one connected to the man responsible for the death of her parents. She appears to be able to kill at will—in one ludicrous scene, she gets herself arrested to take out a man behind bars—so I'm not sure why she hasn't gotten to the big bad sooner.

Written by Luc Besson (who also produced) and Robert Mark Kamen, and directed by Olivier Megaton (”Transporter 3”), the movie skirts around the fact that Cataleya is a total psychopath who, in addition, to the murdering, lies constantly to her artist boyfriend (Michael Vartan); trains two dogs to kill on command; and makes vile threats to the poor FBI agent (Lennie James) tracking her.

Having just plowed through all five seasons of the Showtime series “Dexter,” I've had serial killers on the brain lately. To varying degrees throughout its run, that show has dealt with the moral issues of its title character's extracurricular, nighttime activities. “Colombiana” never even considers that what Cataleya has devoted her life to doing might not be entirely justified and that what she does might make her just as evil as the people who wronged her.

The filmmakers clearly put more thought into Saldana's form-fitting outfits.

Greg's Grade: D

(Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, intense sequences of action, sexuality and brief strong language. 107 minutes.)

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