It was a busy Friday with Hurricain Irene coming in two days. Lots of shopping and preperation. But I made sure I set some time aside to catch a flick.
I had two movie choices to see. Well, three I guess, but OUR IDIOT BROTHER didn’t really peak my interest. I was drawn to see DON’T BE AFRIAD OF THE DARK because one – I’m a Guillermo del Toro fan and two – this was a remake of one of my favorite TV horror movies of the 70′s. But instead I decided to catch COLOMBIANA. Not because I was impressed with the trailer. On the contrary, I thought it wasn’t going to be all that great. But I couldn’t remember the last time that a black woman played the leading role in an action movie. Sanaa Lathan in Aliens vs. Preditors? Catwoman? (cring) No, I had to check out what they did with this young black latina that impressed me with her AVATAR role. You know… I had to support the sista.
Zoe Saldana plays Cataleya, a little Colombian girl that looses her parents to a ciminal cartel. She swears revenge, even as she leaves a bloody mark on her parents killer. Cataleya escapes through connections her father had and with help fleas to America. There she seeks out her uncle played by Cliff Curtis, whom she asks to teach her how to kill so she can revenge her family. Remember another little girl played by a young Natalie Portman, bent on seeking family revenge? Writer Luc Besson revisits familiar ground in this one, only the little girl does learn to be an assassin, and a deadly one at that. From there we see Zoe going through one crime member after another. Bypassing alarms and heavily armed guards, nothing seems to be able to stop her. Even FBI agent Ross (Lennie James) can’t get a lead on who is killing these Cartel members.
But things go south for our ‘little flower’ when she was caught sleeping on the job and the Colombian mafia and the FBI get a clue as to who she is and where to get her. The movie becomes a bit of a cat-and-mouse as Zoe’s character sets out to assassinate the grand pooba of the mafia.
I will tell you right now. I didn’t hate this movie. BUT, I didn’t necessarily like it either. The director may have one of the coolest names in Hollywood, but Olivier Megaton did not impress me with this one. The storytelling was very disjointed and some things down right fantastical. When I look back at action movies, especially with women leads, I guess they aren’t too different.
But a training scene, where we see young Zoe learning about weapons and assassination techniques, would have been very fufilling to my appitite for cool. I just found it hard to believe that this girl turned elite killer could learn all these government / CIA level skills from her bruiser of an Uncle, who we first see in a dark room repeatedly punching a guy in the face. On the other hand, some of her steathy killing moments were fun and entertaining. Ninja like, this black woman was a silent feline shadow of death. Which is why I probably thought of Catwoman at one point.
I for one think Zoe Saldana can act! I had an argument with a friend who thought the opposite. I feel if Hollywood gives Zoe more intimate roles that she can sink some emotion into, then she will deliver (just as they did Angelina Jolie). Colombiana wasn’t really one of those movies. I didn’t expect it to be, but some of the scenes were just comic-booky or rushed. The acting wasn’t great at all, but how many action movies are. But give me something – a sense of how dangerous this Cartel is. Where did Zoe get her skills from? Why was she dating that white guy? Why did her uncle wear that silly hat? You can’t leave everything to the imagination and expect your audience to connect all the dots. It’s not always just about action. But let me temper my tone by stating that this was a PG-13 movie and not R. For an action movie, that rating is going to make the producers hold back a lot.
I wasn’t disappointed with COLOMBIANA, I was just irritated. But this is coming from an old black dude that expects a lot from his action movies. My well runs deep from the 70′s action stuff, so I have a high standard for shallow action flicks. This is my take on it… the younger you are, the more you will enjoy this movie. If you like cool action scenes with a skinny sister in a cat suit and big guns blazing, then you should like this. If you need more substance in your assassin-revenge soup, then wait on it. There’s Geek Soul Brother’s review. If you saw the movie and disagree, let me know. I love a good movie debate.