Review of Colombiana: Zoe Saldana wants revenge
Zoe Saldana plays a slinky assassin in the action flick Colombiana. It’s a silly, sexy thriller largely based around shots of the eye-catching Saldana firing assorted guns, but does it carry any weight?
The trailer is pretty self-explanatory, but if you haven’t seen it, here’s a refresher. As a child in Bogota, Colombia, ten-year-old Cataleya Restrepo (Amandla Stenberg) watched as her parents were executed by mobsters. Now, after years of training as a hitman by her uncle, little Cataleya is all grown up, and she wants revenge. As a young woman (Zoe Saldana) with nothing to lose and everything to gain, she’s on a mission of vengeance, hunting down the killers responsible for her parents’ deaths.
It’s a silly, sexy, violent flick, and at first glance, the plot looks like the same cookie-cutter scenario we’ve seen a dozen times before. Child from a poor city/country witness the death of a parent/mentor/insert loved one here. They grow up to become a stone cold killer and go on a mission of personal vengeance. Roll credits.
But this film has a few things going for it that make it more than your average shoot-em-up thriller. First, the director is Oliver Megaton, who also worked on Transporter 3. And Luc Besson penned the screenplay, so you know the chase and fight scenes will be kick-ass. After all, this is the writer responsible for titles like La Femme Nikita, The Transporter, and Taken.
Most importantly, Besson switches it up a little by dropping a little girl into the plot line, instead of a male character, which gives us the chance to witness the wonderful Saldana at work. She already has an established action pedigree—she trained ruthlessly for Avatar and played a mysterious femme fatale in The Losers—but this is her first starring role in an action flick, and she does Cataleya justice. Saldana projects the right blend of anger and sadness as the little girl lost, and she makes for a believable assassin: no high heels or little-girl guns here. As Cataleya, she means business.
Aside from the perpetually butt-kicking Angelina Jolie, who once famously refused the role of a Bond girl and said she’d rather play Bond himself, female action stars are rare. Most female characters in action movies are at best only sidekicks, and at worst, they’re shamelessly sexed-up eye candy with fluffy dialogue and no real substance.
Uma Thurman slashed her way through the gritty Kill Bill and Kate Beckinsale is set to revamp her role as the vampire heroine Selene in the fourth installment of the Underworld franchise. But they’re rarities. For whatever reason, studios seem reluctant to release films that center around a strong, gutsy female action hero.
This means that Saldana has a prime opportunity to establish herself as a true female action star, and not merely a pretty femme fatale, if only she can keep finding the right vehicles. Colombiana is a good start. It might not be Oscar material, but it’s a well-written, bad-ass flick that will leave you quite entertained. Here’s to hoping Saldana finds more action-driven roles in the future.