Writer/producer Luc Besson returns to a genre which he helped define with Colombiana, and although he hands the directorial reins to one of his proteges, the fantastically monikered Olivier Megaton, the French maestro’s fingerprints are all over this film. The story of a sexy female assassin (Zoe Saldana) seeking vengeance on the drug cartels who murdered her family works as a nice companion piece to Besson classics La Femme Nikita and Leon, with the latter being of particular influence in several sequences. What Colombiana lacks in comparison however is the classy, art-house style of these earlier works, yet the increased action, more reminiscent of Besson’s Transporter series (of which Megaton helmed the third), generally works fairly well, and Saldana delivers a capable performance as heroine Cataleya.
That said, Colombiana is not without it’s problems. The film tends to take itself a little too seriously, particularly in some of the largely redundant romantic scenes between Cataleya and underappreciated boyfriend Danny (Michael Vartan), which tend to drag down the pacing and leave you impatiently waiting for the next action scene. Bizarrely, several timeline based continuity errors are also potentially distracting. As an example, for no discernable reason the majority of the film is set in 2007, yet the wall of the office belonging to the CIA agent tasked with tracking down the unknown assassin features a large photo of President Obama, two years before he became president. It’s nitpicking to be sure, but suggests a lack of attention to detail that perhaps hampers the film’s success. Mistakes like this would be more forgivable if the filmmakers were more willing to embrace the silliness and fun elements of the story, rather than reaching for something more affecting than is necessary. Still, it’s more or less a good time waster, anchored by a solid performance from Saldana, an actress who continues to impress in action roles.