By ALLISON HOLLOMAN
“Colombiana,” which was recently released in theaters, operates under a highly original and innovative concept: believable dialogue, an in-depth plot, and complex characters are completely unnecessary conventions as long as you have explosions and kick-ass fight scenes with an attractive actress that frequently dons a cat suit.
In fact, this film does not hesitate to utilize nearly every overdone action-film cliché imaginable. It has it all (if all you’re looking for is the same action flick you have seen time and time again), from the main character on a mission fueled by revenge, to the anonymous, antagonistic government agency in relentless pursuit, and it even includes the inevitable shower scene (in this case, it’s a bathtub) where the lead cleanses themselves in an act of symbolic renewal after an exhausting, but eventually victorious fight with the bad guy.
No convention is left un-exploited in “Columbiana.” Any trait of a quality film is substituted with just another example of an action movie that chooses style over substance.
You do not have to look very far for the reason this looks so much like others in the genre; the screenplay writer, Luc Besson, has penned dozens of action movies. More famously, he is responsible for “The Transporter,” “La Femme Nikita” (both the original 1990 film and the 1997 TV show, long before the CW network’s retooling), and even “Leon: The Professional.” This film just seems too comfortable being nothing more than a repeat of films we have seen before.
With Luc Besson at the helm, it has an excuse for its strong resemblance to “Nikita,” but iseems to be a sister-movie to anything from “Lara Croft Tomb Raider” to “Wonder Woman,” and there are even hints of “Xena: Warrior Princess.” At times, you feel as if you are watching “The Bourne Identity” and Matt Damon was swapped out for Zoe Saldana.
The dialogue between characters often felt like placeholders for some more genuine lines that would be inserted later. My favorite example of this occurance is when the boyfriend, played by Michael Vartan, who, by the way, just pops into the film with no explanation, is calling for Saldana’s character to come back to him, and we get to witness his extraordinary delivery of what sounds like “Jennn-ii-furrrr.”
Zoe Saldana is by far the best thing about Colombiana , and she inserts life into what could have been dead-pan lines. I am curious to see what other movies will feature her in the future, because it’s clear that she is capable of carrying a movie, but let’s just hope next time she’s given a more fully developed movie.
While die-hard fans of action films will probably enjoy this, “Colombiana” is not particularly fresh, and may not warrant the trip to the movie theater. Though, if you do decide to go, try not to roundhouse kick any bad guys on your way out of the theater, in true Xena Warrior Princess fashion.
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