An Exciting Trip to “Colombiana”

Photo Courtesy of Tristar Pictures

The incredibly anticipated “Colombiana” film finally opened on Friday, August 26. Although the box office earned over sixteen million dollars over the following weekend, the action film met some controversy over the supposed stereotypes that the film perpetuated about Colombian culture. The tagline for the film, “Vengeance is Beautiful,” can possibly elude that vengeance is a common part of the Colombian culture, but this matter ultimately comes down to the viewer’s opinion.

“Colombiana” is centered on a feisty young girl named Cataleya, who witnesses her parents’ death in her own home and must flee for her own safety. As a young woman, lifelong revenge is the only life she sees suitable for herself. But even within the dirty job of being an assassin, she doesn’t exactly play by the book. She is involved in organized crime with her uncle – one of her only living family members – but on her own time, she conducts assassinations, which her uncle is highly against. He fears that her constant need to fill her void from her past will only endanger her and potentially her family as well. That being said, her selfish actions eventually lead her to trouble.

Actress Zoe Saldana, known for her huge role in 2009’s successful film “Avatar,” was expected to give a more than spectacular performance.  Here, she delivers a striking performance of an independent young woman who in actuality is living more than one life. Saldana has typically played emotional or even weak characters in past films, so this film gives her the chance to be a bit of a rebel and indulge herself in another identity.

Although she is utterly untouchable, Cataleya has one weakness that remains prevalent throughout the film. Not only does she hold a place in her heart for her uncle and grandmother figure whom she calls “mama,” she also has a love interest who yearns to know more about her identity, but whom she closes off to protect herself from being too exposed and susceptible. For her, the true battle resides within her. Her need to kill in order to seek revenge on those who did her harm all those years ago prevents the chance of living a normal life with a family.

The most appealing and exciting concept of the film is her remorseless behavior, which contrasts with her vulnerabilities for those she loves. Everyone likes to see a tough girl every now and then, but one without emotions can seem unrealistic and even robotic. Her character is so ruthlessly unforgiving in all of her killings that a her loving identity is almost completely contradictory.

The film does a very precise job of distinguishing her true self from her assassin identity. Though she is intended to be a cold-blooded killer, she is never seen as an evil person. In a sense, a moviegoer might view Saldana’s character as a superhero who kills those who have done harm to others and have gotten away with far too many crimes.

I will admit that it does seem slightly peculiar that the ever so slender and seemingly fragile Zoe Saldana is capable of annihilating numerous men almost effortlessly, but director Olivier Megaton makes it look incredibly believable. Saldana seems as though she had prior training in fighting before going on set, which made her performance easier to believe. I do admire the film’s underlying “girl power” message. Though it may not be distinguishable at first, Megaton’s technique of making the viewer form a solidarity with Saldana’s character emits a strong sense of independence and determination.

Even from the very beginning of the film, Saldana’s young character uses her acrobatic skills and sheer adrenaline rush to escape from men with loaded guns. Now if that doesn’t scream determination, then I don’t know what does! I also admire the use of the camera during this scene over any other. Towards the beginning of the film, Megaton uses the amazing scenery of the Columbian city in vast proportions. The audience gets to view how large the city is from a distance and can see all the obstacles young Cateleya must take to escape. This scene is quite exciting and simultaneously nerve racking because the young girl could be caught at any moment!

The film does not hold many surprising plot turns and isn’t intended to trick the audience. The relentless thrill of discovering who her next victim be definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. In my opinion, Megaton’s intent is to simply keep the audience entertained and give them exactly what they expected. Viewers will find that the action-packed scenes are attention-grabbing and are delivered just how the movie trailer portrays them to be. Saldana’s character is perfectly cast and eludes the idea that the impossible might just be possible after all. Though a bit predictable, Megaton succeeds in creating an exciting, teeth-clenching film that never had a dull moment.

Rating: 4 out of 5