I am always excited when I hear about a new Luc Besson film. As a director, his action sequences are some of my favorite cinematic moments (THE FIFTH ELEMENT, LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL). As a writer, however, he has produced far less stellar work. But up to this point you could always count on action with originality and flair if Besson was involved. Up. To. This. Point.
The movie begins 15 years ago in Colombia. After witnessing the murder of her parents, 10 year old Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) escapes Colombia and heads to the United States where she seeks solace with her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis of SUNSHINE). At Cataleya’s request, Emilio says that he will teach her to become a killer (her father’s profession). Jump to the present, and Cataleya is now working for Emilio, taking jobs and leaving calling cards along the way trying to lure her parent’s killer, Don Luis, out of hiding.
Cataleya has become quite a gifted assassin but her talent came at a price. She isn’t able to establish any real relationships with anyone, including her family. Her one release is a purely sexual relationship with Danny (Michael Vartan of ALIAS), an artist who is falling in love with our grisly assassin. As she continues to raise the stakes, Cataleya brings greater heat down on herself in the form of FBI Agent Ross (the GREAT Lennie James of SNATCH and television’s THE WALKING DEAD). As he closes in on Cataleya, he begins to unearth her story, a clue that could cost Cataleya everything for which she has fought.
If everything up to this point sounds fairly cliché, that is because it IS. While COLOMBIANA brings some decent action sequences to the screen, there is very little originality here. The movie just doesn’t break any new ground. When I heard about this project, I thought that perhaps Besson would break the mold and give us another strong female character who we could identify with and rally around… a female Jason Bourne perhaps?
Sadly that isn’t the case, even with scenes and shots lifted directly from the Bourne films (I’m talking to YOU, sniper scene). Nothing here is as clean or polished as you would expect. Instead of “raw” and “deeply emotional” Cataleya, and the film as a whole, comes off like someone TRYING to look raw and deeply emotional. Director Megaton is certainly not known for his dramatic prowess but here even his action sequences seem poorly paced and boorish.
It does bear stating, the rest of the casting works well enough. Saldana, while no revelation, is alright as Cataleya. She’ll certainly continue to make waves in Hollywood, Michael Vartan and Lennie James are great in their smaller roles and Spanish mainstay Jordi Molla is very good as Don Luis’ right-hand man Marco. And finally, Stenberg (who will be portraying Rue in the upcoming HUNGER GAMES films) is absolutely to-the-beat perfect in her opening sequences. This is a movie that starts with a bang and ends with a whimper.
Video: (1080p, 2.35:1 Widescreen) The video is beautiful and crisp, it is a phenomenal transfer that is impressive.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Descriptive Service, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1) The audio is equally impressive with the low booms resonating with a masterful mix as the guns are shot.
Colombiana: The Making Of (25:12) A decent and fairly in-depth look at the making of the movie with focus on the stunts and locations. The selected scenes shown in the featurette remind me of what could have been if there had been more connection and originality and less clichéd, flashy action.
Cataleya’s Journey (09:33) The cast and director talk about the story from Cataleya’s point of view. This focuses primarily the younger Cat, played by newcomer Amandla Stenberg. She was one of the strongest points of the film, and her scenes sizzle.
Assassins (11:54) The cast talk about creating their roles and some of the backstory that they introduced during their rehearsals.
Training A Killer (06:03) This feature focuses on Cataleya’s raw, street fighting style. This style, paired with the action/editing prowess of Megaton, resulted in flashy fight and action sequences.
Take The Ride (07:46) The filmmakers talk about shooting in 3 countries, varied locales, and casting international stars to add to the flair of the film.
This Blu-ray also features Previews for additional Sony films, BD-Live access, and an Ultra-Violet (UV) Digital Copy of the film which can be streamed and/or downloaded to your computer or mobile device. The COLOMBIANA UV Digital Copy appears to be available in Standard Definition only.