“Colombiana” anything but good

AMBER ROLLAND – Hoof Prints Editor

“Colombiana” begins as a normal movie with a believable plot and deep, realistic characters. Then the opening credits end.

Cataleya Restrepo, played by Amandla Stenberg as a child and Zoe Saldana as a young woman, watches as her parents are murdered before her very eyes by a group of men working for Don Luis, a man who can be safely assumed to be involved in some sort of illicit activity, in their home in Colombia in 1992. The ringleader of the men, a man named Marco, takes the seat across from Cataleya at her kitchen table and begins trying to persuade her to give up the whereabouts of a micro SD card that belonged to Don Luis.

After answering several questions by either nodding or shaking her head because the card is located underneath her tongue, Cataleya decides that the interview is over and proceeds to grab a knife from under the table and stick it through Marco’s hand before jumping out of her kitchen window. After scaling a few stories and swinging underneath a ledge to protect herself from the bullets whizzing past her, she runs and jumps across a few rooftops and eventually makes it down to the street. A chase throughout the city then begins in which she, an elementary-age girl is on foot, and they, fully grown men with guns and cars, evades them and makes it to the United States Embassy, securing a trip to America by giving one of the men the SD card.

She ditches her supervisor in an airport in Miami by climbing out of a bathroom window and makes her way to Chicago to stay with her uncle Emilio, a hitman. More ridiculousness ensues and then the film indicates that time has moved forward 15 years. Very little information is given to show what has occurred during this jump in time, making the characters hard to understand and relate to.

Cataleya is shown to be an extremely gifted assassin with an unquenchable thirst for revenge. She is on a killing spree, drawing an orchid found only in Colombia on her victims’ chest with black lipstick. After more than 20 victims the FBI finally publicizes the drawings in an attempt to gain a lead in the case, achieving Cataleya’s intention of sending a message to Don Luis. The chain of unrealistic events continues as the audience is reminded over and over again of Cataleya’s desire to kill him. This message is hammered in again and again yet when it’s time for Cataleya to dispose of the vile man who had her parents killed, she doesn’t even confront him face to face.

As I was watching and ridiculing this film I found myself thinking it was a mix of “Salt,” a film riddled with unrealistic stunts, and “Léon: The Professional,” a 1994 film starring Natalie Portman and Jean Reno as a young girl whose family is killed and the hitman who takes her in, respectively. Coincidentally the man who co-wrote the script for and produced “Colombiana” also wrote and directed “The Professional.” It seems as if Luc Besson has resorted to reusing his old material.

Despite how relatively few lines Zoe Saldana had, her acting effort in this film deserves recognition. I was also impressed by Amandla Stenberg, a relatively new face to the film industry. The rest of the cast’s acting was satisfactory, superb even, if you consider what little they had to work with script-wise.

However the cast couldn’t save the film from the damage Besson’s terribly written script, obvious anachronisms and far-fetched plot inflicted. The only entertainment this movie had to offer resulted from its atrociousness. “Colombiana” deserves 1 out of 5 horseshoes.