Colombiana - Blu-ray Review

'so far, so standard Besson. This is the same plot he's been recycling since Leon, tweaking elements (has the main character lost their parents/daughter/brother/hamster? Is she/he an assassin/agent/Joe-Schmoe/dog?) slightly along the way'

Potentially benefiting from the rule of diminished expectations, Colombiana is a film that has few errors, many mediocre moments and a smattering of elements that work quite well, resulting in a film that, if not quite plum in the middle of average, only misses the middle because it's firing at it with a bazooka.

With Luc Besson behind the screenplay there's little surprise here that we're dealing with a girl (Amandla Stenberg) who loses her parents early on, eventually growing in to a woman (Zoe Saldana) who is out to avenge their death. So far, so standard Besson. This is the same plot he's been recycling since Leon, tweaking elements (has the main character lost their parents/daughter/brother/hamster? Is she/he an assassin/agent/Joe-Schmoe/dog?) slightly so that someone new can be cast and a different director can be brought in to make it look somewhat original. You can't knock the success of the formula but that doesn't mean that recognising it isn't becoming a bore, like crossing the street to avoid the childhood friend you can't be bothered to catch up with.

In the directing chair this time is the impossibly named Olivier Megaton, a name bettered only by the revelation recently that a one Mr Barry Battles is currently finding gainful employment amongst Hollywood's collective of preposterous monikers. Megaton does a great job starting with a street-running inspired chase before showing that he hasn't quite got the same mastery of narrative: there's far too much time spent with Stenberg. The opening section could have been ended when the youngster first says 'it's my passport', thus cutting the film down to the ninety-minute runtime it desperately needed. Twenty minutes plus to explain why everyone is about to die is just too long for this sort of offering.

Once Saldana appears things predictably improve. Besson is adept at writing roles for female actors that don't placate or pander. Cataleya (Saldana) could just as easily be a male character and the toughness the writer includes, the fact that we never really stop to contemplate her sexuality, is notable and welcome. Megaton slightly undermines this by including one too many shots of Saldana naked, turning round at just the right moment to secure a hardly deserved 15-rating (it should have been a 12a) but hey, worse directors have done much worse than that with female-led action scripts.

Ultimately it's missing a killer action sequence or two and some front line support for Saldana but the inevitable final confrontation does deliver and both Lennie James and the always-welcome Cliff Curtis do their best. Passable, at the very least, but it needs to be the last time Besson goes to his favourite, safe, plot arc.




Look further...

'a smart, sexy thriller with a good story that propels Saldana's star power' - Reel Talk, B+

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