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Colombiana

Year: 2011
Production Co: Europa Corp
Director: Olivier Megaton
Producer: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson/Robert Mark Kamen
Cast: Zoe Saldana, Cliff Curtis, Lennie James, Michael Vartan

It looked like a mindless Luc Besson action film. It moved like a mindless Luke Besson action film. But it wasn't quite as mindless as the average Luc Besson action film.

I don't know how much that has to do with Luc Besson. Where his other action stars (Jet Li in Kiss of the Dragon, John Travolta in From Paris With Love) are all swagger and front, known for a singular skill (Li's martial arts, Travolta's mouth), Zoe Saldana brings a little more depth and gravity to heroine Cataleya. Saldana's unafraid to lose herself in anguish when she discovers the murdered bodies of people she loves or shedding a single tear at her lot in life rather than just stride around, Terminator-like, firing guns.

Of course, she's the only element that lifts Colombiana above any other action flick around now. It's another take on the classic Batman archetype as the young Cataleya escapes the attack in which her parents are murdered, travelling to America to look up a relation as her father's directed her.

Her father has been in business with a drug baron straight out of Central Casting, and when she seeks out her Uncle (Curtis, once again playing any old dark skinned minority just because he looks like one), he teaches her to be a professional killer for hire.

Unbeknown to him however, she's been seeking out anyone connected with her parents' killers on the side, dispatching them with military precision and leaving clues she hopes will flush out the ringleader. When the cops decide it's finally time to let her string of killings loose on the media, the ball starts well and truly rolling for Cataleya as she closes in on her prey.

Like the best Besson films there's a lot of kinetic action and over the top violence. Director Megaton (a Besson protégé) also infuses the movie with strong South American flavours and colours, from the obligatory parkour chase across a crowded favela on down.

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