action movie freak    

 




 

COLOMBiANA

(26 Aug 2011) Director Olivier Megaton

Writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen



SYNOPSIS
A
drug dealer's henchman who tries to get out of the business is gunned down in his apartment, along with his wife, in front of their daughter, Cataleya.  A resourceful and intelligent child, she not only stabs the drug dealer's right-hand man who is trying to convince her to give up the memory chip her father gave her as her "passport" in case he is killed, but she manages to escape the gang of men trying to hunt her down after she makes a run for it.  She  goes to the Embassy as instructed by her father and uses the information on the chip as her 'passport' to the United States, where she promptly loses her 'guardian', then makes her way to Chicago where her uncle lives.  All she is interested in doing is plotting revenge.  She grows up to be an assassin. She not only takes contract hits, she is also eliminating the drug dealer's army on the side, and leaving a calling card.  It takes the police a while to catch on, but when they finally publish the 22 related hits she made with the symbol of the Cataleya orchid she is named for, the drug dealer realizes she is after him. She needs the help of the head policeman on the case "Ross" to find out where the drug dealer is (he has been moved to the U.S.).  Once she knows, it becomes a personal war and a great Action Movie. 

FIRST CHASE SCENE
To see a child running for her life, especially a very young girl in a school uniform, catches in the throat a little. They seemed to use the child actor most of the time and this helps add to the emotion of the scene.  Only once was it obvious that they used a double and even so, it was about as close as I can imagine them getting considering it must have been an adult.  The rooftop-to-rooftop shanty chase was similar to the recent Fast Five chase, but it still held the audience.  I think it was just long enough.

SET UP
The intensity of Cataleya's determination is remarkable. She gets to Chicago and finds the remaining family she has: Her uncle and her grandmother, who take her in. With what she's been through, there is no 'normal' for Cataleya.  When she tells her uncle "I want to be a killer." it makes the movie.  He tries to get her to attend school but to say that it takes some convincing is an understatement, and a scene that must be seen in context to be fully appreciated (so I won't describe it here—see the movie).

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT
We first see the grown-up version of Cataleya in character as a drunk woman (a sort of disguise) who crashes her car into a police patrol car. This lands her jail (intentionally) and she waits for her chance to kill a witness.  Hiding in plain sight in a super-tight short dress and wig that is cut so that the hair hangs down in her face, it's not until after she kills, escapes, takes off the wig and changes her clothes, that we see the child in the woman (when she dresses in this outfit at left).  They did a great job of casting.

From this point on, I had hope there would not be any more objectification of her character.  As a woman, I am sick to death of the overuse and misuse of sexuality when it comes to the portrayal of strong women in Action Movies.  However, in that first scene of Cataleya as a woman, they obviously use it for a purpose. In her pretense of being a drunken bimbo, she is dismissed as a threat.  So much so that the Police Chief Ross says "We're not looking for a woman. It's not possible." Seems a ridiculous thing for a career investigator to say, but a super powerful message about how a woman dresses will cause her to be seen. 

The objectification is excusable up to the point where she takes off her bra before slipping on her 'catsuit'.  Why does she need to remove her bra?!  So that the next scene can show the side view of her breasts in a catsuit so form fitting it seems painted on, and all the men get to see what her boobs look like.  This totally diminishes any power she has. Why does the character have to be sexualized and trivialized in this way!? Would they have a man (okay, well Van Damme excluded) put on skin-tight pants and then show the outline of his package so we could see everything before he begins to fight?  Would he remove his underwear first?  NO!

(sigh)

BEAUTY IS THE BEAST
Yes, Zoe Saldana is beautiful and sexy. We get it. Clothes on, we still get it.  This movie is very female-form worshipping and it has nothing to do with the story line whether she is beautiful and/or sexy or not. When she gets back to her apartment and starts dancing?!?!  Then sucking on a lollipop?  And the obligatory naked shower scene—REALLY?!  Is this so the men filming can watch and jack off later?  OH I CAN'T HELP IT!!  It makes me so mad. 

The first 'hit' by Cataleya shows many of her skills, but mainly it shows she is lithe, limber, and strong.  Being thin helps in the places she has to go on this hit, and being strong helps with the things she has to do to escape.  It does give a good excuse for her to wear a catsuit, but I was really glad it wasn't in every scene, or necessary that she be practically naked all the time. 

LUST, LOVE, AND REVENGE
Once we get to know Cataleya a little, we see she has a boyfriend.  She comes and goes from his apartment with a key.  The relationship turns out to be mainly sexual, and although it seems like love, she won't share her story.  In my experience, people who have been deeply hurt, don't like to 'feel', and until Cataleya can exorcise her demons, she really can't commit to anyone, including family.  She is so consumed by revenge, she never stopped to think of the danger she would be putting her uncle and grandmother in, until it's too late.  Even when confronted with this by her Uncle when he finds out about her side killings, she is in denial. I think her sexuality shows her passion. She probably has only two outlets for her rage: killing and control.  Once her boyfriend breaks through to her a little, he tells her, apparently for the first time, to let him make love to her.  That it was always the other way around with her as the aggressor is very telling.  Being in control sexually, and in killing, masks and medicates her inability to control that her parents were killed.  The movie is simplistic in the veracity and ferociousness of its emotions, making it a powerfully moving ride that you feel is going a little too fast, and which you can't get off of.  Like Cataleya, you have to see it through until the end.  And what an ending! 

ACTION!
Once she crashes the gate in the armored car, it's a full-blown Action Movie. Up to that point it was more of a drama, although all that drama informs the ending. Despite the fact that you know what the movie is about and where it's headed, the suspense (and acting) is great.  After her photo is found and the FBI are on their way to her apartment, I got goosebumps from her sense of panic. 

Thankfully (!) she dresses appropriately for the all-out attack at the end (pictured at left).  Her degree of preparation is flawless (something is too often clearly not thought through in action movie plots). She has been waiting for this day her whole life and nothing is going to get in her way.  True to great Action Movie form, she can't get it too easily, however, and seeing her work for it is something to behold.  She kicks ass.  Size does not matter here, not for the character (or the actress). Bravo to her and to the filmmakers!

In the final showdown, they pull out all the stops on her skill levels:  She is great in the hand-to-hand combat scene with the towel.  Love that this Megaton/Besson team utilizes props like so many Asian films (it reminded me so much of the awesome fights in The Transporter)  The stunt work was done by:

Jay Amor  stunt coordinator, stunt driver (What a career he's had!  He worked on True Lies, Con Air, Passenger 57, Transporter 2, Bad Boys, and Bad Boys II just to name a few.)

(The)
David Belle  parkour choreographer

Laurent Demianoff   fight coordinator, stunt coordinator (Transporter 3), and

Alain Figlarz  fight choreographer

KUDOS TO THEM!

Despite her feminine and very slender frame, Zoe does a convincing job of using a wide variety of weapons.  This picture should give you all the reason you need to see the film. Comparing her size to the weapon, and knowing that she handles it like it's second nature, it's an all-out-Oh-My-God moment to see her kick into action when they come for her.  And this is nothing compared to when she comes for them.

Below are just a few more of the weapons she uses.  (Thanks to IMFDB for the complete list).  

The Blaser R93 Sniper Rifle . . .

 

The M4A1 Carbine . . .

Colombiana movie Zoe Saldana with

Rocking the

From IMFDB:  Cataleya "uses the SIG SG 551 fitted with a quad rail, foregrip, and Aimpoint sight as her primary weapon during the final shootout."  [This is a wicked-ass powerful gun!]


And showing they have a sense of humor, IMFDB writes: "Cataleya retrieves a
Blaser R93 when her apartment is raided [also shown in  the first picture above], and later uses it as a long-range interrogation method. "

 

COLOMBiANA is definitely a movie to own!