Colombiana is not a very good movie. In fact, it’s barely mediocre. But that’s OK. The lithesome Zoe Saldana more than makes up for the film’s woeful shortcomings; she is pure hotness and terror, a nimble shit-kicking human apparatus who is as vicious and unrelenting as she is drop-fucking-dead gorgeous. She is better than this movie. She may be the best female action hero since Linda Hamilton retired the wife-beater. Of this generation’s action heroines, Saldana would choke Kate Beckinsale to death with a bath towel and break off one of Angelina Jolie’s arms and stab it in Milla Jovovich’s ear. And she wouldn’t say a fucking word. She does all the dressing down with her eyes, and if you aren’t dead from the shame, the bullet in your head will surely do the trick.
I went into Colombiana an admirer. I came out a goddamn believer.
Colombiana follows Cataleya Restrepo (Saldana), who as a young girl (played by Amandla Stenberg) witnesses the death of her parents after a transaction between her father and Generic Colombian Kingpin goes sour. In the bloodbath, Cataleya escapes from Generic Capo and his Henchees with a microchip that she exchanges with the embassy for free passage to America. There, she moves in with her Generic Colombian Grandmother and her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis), the only other character in the film with any dimension. What was on the microchip is forgotten, and we never even get an idea of what kind of business Generic Kingpin is in, although it’s surely the business of choice for Generic Colombian Kingpins: Drugs. All that matters is that he killed Cataleya’s parents, and that’s motive enough for her to want to grow up and be a killer, an occupation that Emilio — a Kingpin of sorts himself — is happy to indulge, so long as she also hits the books.
Fifteen years pass, and in the meantime, Cataleya has the lucky goddamn fortune of growing into Zoe Saldana’s unholy body. She’s a killer, some sort of humanitarian assassin who gets rid of bad guys for a fee. She has also taken to leaving a tag on her victims. The tag is meant to draw out her parent’s killers, but it also invites the attention of the FBI, who start their own manhunt. In between the time she spends killing and escaping, Cataleya also finds a spare scene or two for booty calls with her fuck-buddy Danny (Michael Vartan).
Vartan is the epitome of what is wrong with Colombiana. He is the gaping genital sore of leading men, a cheap-suit commercial come-to-big-screen life. Saldana deserves better than Michael Vartan. She deserves better than generic Capo, and she deserves better than another one of the early drafts of Luc Besson’s The Professional. At the very least, she deserves the right to bury Clifton Collins, Jr. or Danny Trejo and fuck Gael García Bernal through a wall. But Vartan? That guy has to hire assistants to swing his dick for him. Jesus. Hollywood finally gives us Bourne with a bra, and they surround her with weak sauce like Vartan and Jordi Mollà, give her one of Besson’s hired-hands to direct, and then dump her into the second-to-last weekend of the summer? They’re not even giving her a chance.
But the miracle of Colombiana, if anyone bothers to check it out, is that Saldana has the kinetic agility not only to slink and kick, but to drape herself over giant plot holes and distract you from the pawns that stack up around her. She’s acrobatic, and so full of quick-edit energy that you’ll have no problem believing that she can beat the living snot out of men twice her size and pulverize their goddamn corpses. She deserves better than this shitty movie. She deserves her own shit-kicking franchise. But for now, this’ll do. Just wear a helmet to the theater, lest Saldana throw around one too many head slams.