Pictured: The exact thing Jason Statham would wear if Colombiana were about a dude.

Colombiana is like if someone remade The Professional, but took out Jean Reno, skipped all the parts about training to be an assassin, and gave Natalie Portman a boyfran. If that sounds intriguing, congratulations on getting out from under that rock. I saw 127 Hours, I know how hard it must’ve been. If it sounds like a completely generic revenge thriller, bingo.

The movie was actually written by the director of The Professional, Luc Besson, and he gave it to protégé Olivier Megaton to direct because he had already covered such similar material. So, with such a derivative premise and clunky story, that leaves it to the director and stars to hit the mark. And Oliver elevates the material about as well as you could expect someone who calls himself Megaton to do.

Just a brief synopsis shows you where they went wrong. First, there’s an endless prologue showing the murder of Zoë Saldana’s parents—the only part of the movie set in Columbia, as the action soon moves into generic US cityscapes. (Even the drug lord villain has been taken to the states and put under CIA protection… where he’s allowed to continue dealing drugs. I know the CIA is always cartoonishly evil in action movies, but now they’re just screwing with us). Then we see her latest mission, which has nothing to do with the main plot, but is like the part in a Bond movie before the naked ladies start dancing to Shirley Bassey music. So then we get onto the vengeance, right?

Nope!

We watch her mope around, we see her dating her boyfriend, we see her go on another pointless mission, pretty much everything but actually avenging her family. There’s even a B-plot about the ineffectual cops hunting her down, seemingly put in just so the lead agent can scoff at the possibility of his mystery assassin being a woman. Uh… yeah, master assassin who’s killed twenty high-ranking criminals over four years and left a calling card on all of them, sure, but it being a woman? Whoa, buddy, that’s too unbelievable! So I guess there aren’t any female agents in the FBI who handle guns, or who’ve shot a suspect in the line of duty. You lied to me, Fringe!

Oh, I get it, movie, you’re pointing out how progressive you are for having a female action hero. As if it hasn’t been twenty years since Linda Hamilton was doing the same thing without having to stop every five minutes to make a sexy pose. And she actually looked like she could hold a gun without her arm breaking off. I’m just saying, why is it that whenever a guy gets in shape for an action movie, he ends up like Thor or Captain America, looking like an upside-down triangle (but sexy), and whenever a girl gets into shape for an action movie, she ends up looking like she has negative body fat?

Getting kicked by Angelina Jolie in Salt is legally a massage.

Anyway, the conceit is that over four years, Saldana’s killed over twenty people, and each time she leaves her father’s mark on the body, hoping that the crime lord who killed her folks will see it and reveal himself. Because that makes perfect sense. If you found out a world-class assassin was connected to someone you killed, wouldn’t you immediately come out of hiding? That’s probably just his way of saying it’s all good. So it’s like a romantic comedy where instead of seeing people go on dates, we someone update their profile on Match.com

Finally, towards the end, she starts interrogating people to find out where the bad guy is and instantly gets results. I bet that made her feel silly. I feel like a dunce when I go to the kitchen and the oven isn’t pre-heated because I never turned it on. She spent four years drawing on corpses for no reason. Imagine the germs.

Another thing: Natalie Portman being a preteen girl, they didn’t sexualize her more than the plot demanded. Zoë Saldana spends so much time being sexy in this, it’s actually a bit wearying. First, she’s a sexy drunk who makes an entire police department stare as she’s booked—which seems a little skeevy, as is there any time a woman is less sexually desirable than when she’s falling down drunk? Then she changes into a sexy skintight bodysuit to make a hit—and apparently it’s pretty cold in police holding cells. Then she goes back to her apartment to do a sexy dance, takes a sexy shower, and has sexy sex with her boyfriend.

 

And I bet there’ll be a close-up of Jason Statham sucking on a lollipop in the next Transporter. Actually, that series is pretty homoerotic, I wouldn’t be surprised.

There’s even a sequence where the cops try to catch Saldana while she’s in panties and a tanktop, which I suppose is meant to show how she’s caught unaware and vulnerable, but it has no effect because she’s always been dressed in that skimpy fashion. You can’t make a character vulnerable if they’ve never appeared strong. By the end, I felt like I was watching the first season of True Blood, where they kept showing Jason Stackhouse’s treasure trail but never gave you the full monty. I really doubt there’s anything down there that’s going to surprise me, so either show it or don’t, just quit with the updates on his pube trimming.

Speaking of her boyfriend, the ever-bland Michael Vartan, he’s apparently the one guy who would take a no-strings-attached fuckbuddy relationship with Zoë Saldana, and wish they would stop having hardcore sex to get to know each other. I’m serious, they have dinner, she climbs onto him, and he says “Hold on a sec, I want to ask you some more awkward questions about your past.” I’m just saying, Zoë, don’t be surprised if you come back from painting a flower on some gun runner and find that your boyfriend is now “roommates” with Brad from Fresno.

“So you say your favorite Power Ranger was Billy? Mine too! Joe Jonas was right, this is so much better than reverse cowgirl!

Just to give you one last idea of how much lazy filler is in this movie, after Saldana’s character loses her parents, she’s taken in by an uncle and starts training to become a killer. Then, guess what, the same guys who killed her biological family kill her adopted family so she’s even more vengeful and angry. This takes out Saldana’s aunt, and with her, all hope of this progressive feminist action movie passing the Bechdel Test, since all she and Saldana exchange are a few significant glances. Which were probably about men.

There’s no tension, no pacing, no urgency, not even a sense of challenge or victory because all Saldana has to do is walk into Casa Villain and blast away with two guns at once to get her revenge. If you really wanna see Zoë Saldana kick ass, watch The Losers. It’s the superior “Uhura fires a climactic rocket launcher” movie.

  • On the one hand this film is sexualizing women when they don’t need to be sexualized because of all the MURDERING. On the other hand, if I don’t go see it Hollywood will tell me that people hate women in action films and use it as an example. MY CONFLICT IS DEEP.