I’m not sure what film some of the people who had reviewed Colombiana had been to see but it’s not the same one I went to. Colombiana is not a classic film but its been given some really harsh reviews that often seem to amount to it not being Leon.
Colombiana is the latest Luc Besson action film and this time he’s gone back to some of the themes that made him famous with Nikita and Leon – assassins and revenge. That makes it hard to review without referring the earlier film. Leon had three truly memorable characters: Leon (Jean Reno), Mathilda (Natalie Portman) and Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Colombiana has Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) and a variety of less developed supporting characters.
Personally I’d like to have seen more made of one of:
- Danny Delanay (Michael Varta) and his relationship with Cataleya
- FBI Special Agent Ross (Lennie James) and his teams pursuit of Catelyna
- Emilio Restrepo (Cliff Curtis) and Catelyna family
- The bad guys/CIA played by Jordi Mollà, Beto Benites and Callum Blue
These were all sketched in and developing any of two of those could have elevated the story. However doing so would either require changing the pacing by losing a set piece or increasing the length of the film by 15 to 30 minutes.
What it lacks in deep characterisation of villains and allies it makes up for by putting its central character on screen and action. The opening chase scene in Columbia and the assassination in the police station are memorable and the third is clever.
The climactic encounter with the villains is the weakest of the set pieces but it remains coherent compared to the confused mess that was The Expendables ending. The fight scene was reminiscent of those found in the Bourne films especially the later, Paul Greengrass, directed offerings with their handheld, in the fight style.
Another thing in its favour is a sense of humour closer to the quips of a good Bond film that is more effective than the forced comedy littered through many modern action films.
So yes, this isn’t Leon or a classic, but if you can get past that while Colombiana is a fun Luc Besson action movie.