Movie Review: “Colombiana”

Writer-producer Luc Besson gives us a parody of his earliest hits “La Femme Nikita” and “The Professional” with “Colombiana,” a lady assassin star vehicle for “Avatar’s” blue angel, Zoe Saldana.

See Zoe kill. See Zoe strip. Many times. See Zoe shower — a PG-13 shower. See Zoe dance seductively all by herself. See Zoe slip into a cat suit to carry out a hit from inside a jailhouse. See Zoe go for a swim. With sharks. In a sexy swimsuit.

“Colombiana” is a laugh-out-loud exploitation film about a young girl who, with bravery and confidence and physical skills beyond her years escaped from the drug lords who killed her drug lord daddy in Bogota, only to travel to America where she grows up and becomes a “tag killer,” somebody who marks her victims with a Cataleya orchid, since Cataleya is her name.

Cliff Curtis (“Sunshine”) is the uncle who trains her and arranges her business affairs — her hits. And…well, nobody else in the cast makes the least impression — bland FBI agents, bland boyfriend who doesn’t know her real name, even Jordi Molla as Marco, the murderer she escaped from 15 years before.

It’s all Zoe’s show as the ballerina-thin bombshell takes care of business, one or twenty-one bad guys at a time

The Spanglish dialogue is limited to Monsieur Luc’s command of English language movie cliches — “Never forget where you came from!” “She is like mist, under the door, a mouse in the wall!”

Fear her! Fear La Colombiana!

The accents  are off, as Besson and his acolyte, the hilariously over-named director Olivier Megaton, cast generic French actors to play American cops, in some cases. There are anachronisms — digital camera cards years before they existed, the French chase sport of parkour decades before Besson’s own “District B-13″ brought it to the world.

All that said, as straight exploitation, it’s amusing, in fits and starts. It’s just that “Colombiana” lacks the kinetic energy of “The Transporter” and the pathos of “La Femme Nikita.” Saldana, doing a variation of her killer diller lady assassin of “The Losers,” doesn’t suggest much of an inner life for the character.

And the action beats — over the top chases and shootouts — don’t have the visceral editing required to make them pay off, and always fall short largely because of tepid sound effects. The guns sound like toys and a few of the voices sound over-dubbed.

Then again, perhaps “Colombiana” will play better in its original French.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, intense sequences of action, sexuality and brief strong language

Cast: Zoe Saldana, Cliff Curtis, Jordi Molla, Lennie James

Credits: Directed by Olivier Megaton, co-written and produced by Luc Besson. A Sony Pictures release.

Running time: 1:47

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