In many ways, the Matt Damon helmed Bourne series ruined the assassin-spy thriller genre. Each film of the same ilk since is immediately held to those high expectations and rarely gets within reach. The series also began a group of assassin prerequisites. All of which are made obvious in the opening seven minutes of Colombiana.


Cataleya’s (Zoe Saldana) parents are murdered right in front of her by a crime/drug lord in Bogota. From then on, she commits herself to becoming a killer to get vengeance for their death.

Colombiana, like most of these films, opens with a montage of real-life cartels set to drum-heavy music, while simultaneously doing flyby camerawork of *insert city* – it’s usually something resembling the Brazilian favelas. A slow, tense scene immediately follows this with Ave Maria flowing smoothly in the background. If this had been the first time this sequence had occurred, it would have been fine, but it’s the seven trillionth so it’s not a good way to start. Next we are given an uncharacteristically long introduction into Cataleya’s journey to Chicago and how she decides to be a killer. It literally goes like this with her uncle (Cliff Curtis), “I want to be a killer.” Small pause. “Sure.” That’s it. This man barely hesitates in agreeing to train an eight-ish year old girl to kill people.


The next issue that arises – keep in mind, we’re still within the twenty minute mark – is when the uncle spontaneously shoots a car until it crashes. There were dozens, if not over a hundred, witnesses simply standing there while he calmly explains being a sloppy killer versus a refined one. Then he walks away. This absurdity continues later on when a cop looks over a ledge and “doesn’t see her” despite a complete lack of covering. The same happens AGAIN in a garage when a SWAT member sees a grate closing, but ignores it as nothing. Moments like this pull an “oh come on” from you because they aren’t even the ridiculous absurdities usually utilized in these films. They are simply ignored common senses.

Despite all of this, Colombiana did succeed in multiple facets. First, they used Zoe Saldana properly (phrasing?). By that I mean, Zoe is beautiful, but she has one of the most slender frames I’ve ever seen, so when I heard she was doing a movie of this style I thought, “If she throws anyone around, I’m leaving.” Luckily, Cataleya is a stealth assassin, not brute force. They do well including her slender frame into her missions – flexible maneuvering, hiding, etc.    

The aspect I found most intriguing was the surprisingly competent FBI work. Agent Ross (Lennie James) covers all his bases and actually does a bang-up job following Cataleya’s clues. Granted, he does get lucky with the knowledgeable mailman, and at one point declares, “We’re not looking for a woman, that’s not possible.” He still is fairly good at his job.

A lot of Colombiana is unnecessary – Michael Vartan’s character is virtually pointless – but then again, so is most of an assassin film. Compared to some I have seen, like The Mechanic, Colombiana pulls it off fairly well. However, you would not be missing much if you decide to pass it up. Saldana’s a good enough actress; I’m sure you’ll see her again.

Note: It looks like it’s free on Youtube in full if you’re so inclined.

  1. I totally agree with your C rating. I actually told others not to see it.

  2. Nah, not goin to see that 🙂

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