There’s nothing like a good female action-revenge movie. What is it about films like Kill Bill, Tomb Raider and even Charlie’s Angels that we love so much? It’s certainly not for their believability or intellectually stimulating dialog (well, maybe Kill Bill).
It’s because the female characters of whom the stories are based around are totally badass, hot, likeable chicks. Guys want to be with them and women want to be like them. This is where Colombiana, while packed with action sequences and eye candy, makes a big misstep.
The film, directed by the impossibly named Olivier Megaton, chronicles the life of Cataleya (Zoe Saldana), first as a 10-year-old girl made witness to the murder of her parents, and fifteen years later as a revenge-seeking assassin.
Physically, Megaton get the character of Cataleya just right. She’s tall, slim, and when called to action her body moves in such a sleek, ballerina-esque way that it’s almost hypnotizing to watch. But the girl has all the personality of a wet mop.
Alright, so her parents were murdered when she was ten. We can understand having a bit of a chip on your shoulder. But after arriving at her aunt and uncles' house in Chicago - her new home after fleeing Colombia - and demanding that her uncle “teach her how to be a killer,” refusing to go to school and questioning the merits of a 5th grade education - you can’t help but wonder if she isn’t a little bit overindulged.
Or how about her “romance” with the character Danny (played by Michael Vartan)? He’s this hot, artist type who is totally in love with Cataleya, but she’s too embittered by her childhood to love him back, so instead she uses him as a booty call. He’s constantly trying to get her to open up to him and talk about her “feelings,” and of course she can’t (because she’s so emotionally numb dammit!). There’s a couple things wrong with this scenario. First of all, have you ever heard of a guy who was upset because he wanted to talk about emotions and all the girl wanted to do was have sex? Secondly, Michael Vartan is so hot! What is she thinking?!
But the most annoying personality trait of Cataleya, and she has a few, has to be her overriding selfishness. When she escaped to Chicago as a child and moved in with her aunt and uncle, they devoted the rest of their lives to making sure she could grow up in a safe and loving environment. Instead of being grateful, she continues down her destructive path and takes up a life of murder and crime, despite the urging of her uncle to stop. That’s why, instead of feeling sympathy when the people she cares about are inevitably drawn into the conflict and put in harms' way, you can’t help but think “told ya’ so!” and only become even more aggravated.
Ultimately, the story of Colombiana is less a tale of revenge, and more a tale of sadness. And perhaps that’s the difference between Cataleya and Beatrix Kiddo. Because in the end, Beatrix got what she wanted - her child was back and her lover's death avenged. But for Cataleya, no amount of killing will ever bring back her parents, and because of that she will never find true happiness nor the audience experience a satisfying pay-off or resolution.
Danielle Panabaker's Top Pop Picks
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