Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 129 - Colombiana

Columbiana (2011) directed by Oliver Megaton

As I was typing out the director's name I had to double check to make sure I was reading it right. Megaton. Really? Could he have picked a more obnoxious pseudonym than that? I suppose Megatron would be worse but if you're going to go that route you might as well go all the way, right? So what kind of film do I expect from a director named Megaton? Something with lots of action, big explosions, a silly pot to hold it all together and mindless fun and we sort of get that with Columbiana.

I'll admit that I am partial to the female revenge genre. I only wanted to watch this movie to see Zoe Saldana kick some ass while looking hot. Can delicately petite women actually take on much larger male professional killers in a fist fight? Probably not, but I don't really care. I am here to be entertained, so if you're going to do it, then do it big, do it loud and make it fun. For the most part Columbiana does what you expect, though it doesn't hit quite as hard as I would have hoped.

Young Cataleya watches her parents murdered in front of her by some bad guys in Columbia. She escapes to America where she meets up with her uncle who takes her in. She wants revenge, he will help her by training her. The problem is that the introduction is severely lacking. Young Cataleya, played by Amandla Sternberg, gets too much screen time. It's not that she's bad in her scenes, it's that her scenes are done all wrong and in the end don't really matter. The murdering of the parents that we know must happen takes too long to develop, as does her trek to America. It leaves no time for her training into a killer, often times the best part of these revenge films; these sequences are conspicuously missing from the film.

So fast forward fifteen years and we're ready to rumble. Older Cataleya (Saldana) devises an impossibly complex plot to kill one of her targets. I don't mind at all that the scheme is silly (and it is) but it sets an unfortunate pattern for the rest of the film, too much filler and not enough killing. I don't mind slower paced action flicks, but I do mind when a film tries to be something it is not. There is too much stuff going on that stalls the action because either it is poorly written or that I simply don't care, probably a combination of both. For instance, why is Michael Vartan in this film? The romance element in the film seems more like an excuse to get Zoe Saldana half naked than to add character. In the end, the romance feels like an afterthought but maybe we'll be too distracted by two good looking people making out to really notice how dumb it is.

Other bad moments? The CIA agent that is protecting the boss Cataleya is going after. As is typical, he looks and talks like a complete sleazeball and is unrealistically cold to the FBI agent going after Cataleya. As for the FBI agent himself, there is the obligatory meeting between him and his target where he has his guard down which is awkwardly written. It is almost cringe-worthy.

I just watched the movie and I can't even decide how much action there actually is in the film. It seems like there should be a lot but I wouldn't be at all surprised if there aren't actually that many action sequences. What does this mean? The film is too long and/or boring. Columbiana should be fifteen to twenty minutes shorter, or conversely those extra twenty minutes better be worth it and they are not. I will say though that the final showdown is everything that we hoped it would be, if only Megaton could transfer some of that energy to the rest of the film.

Yes, Zoe Saldana kicks ass and she looks good doing it, but she doesn't do quite enough of it in this film. She does have one intense fight sequence though that reminds me of the crazy bathroom brawl in Borune Ultimatum, which incidentally is also in a bathroom. Throughout the film we get to see her in various stages of undress showcasing her slender body. Speaking of which, I normally don't question the logistics of these matters, but she is rail thin and it seems impossible that she could have won that bathroom brawl in the way that she does. As long as she looks good doing it, maybe we'll forget how pedestrian the rest of the film is, right? I debated quite a bit whether or not to go C+ or C but decided to go for the higher score. Despite its short comings, it did enough to keep me generally entertained and the films that I have given C's to are definitely worse than this.

Grade: C+

No comments:

Post a Comment