Pretty Vacant 

Colombiana Needs Less Yak-Yak, More Bang-Bang

COLOMBIANA Turns out Zoe Saldana does a pretty decent Jason Statham impression!

COLOMBIANA Turns out Zoe Saldana does a pretty decent Jason Statham impression!

I DOUBT this is much of a shock, but Colombiana sucks. To be fair, it sucks the same way a Jason Statham movie sucks. So if you find yourself cheering when a burly bald man strangles another man with an oily T-shirt, why not a hot chick murdering dirtbags with a toothbrush?

Colombiana is the latest from Luc Besson. The one-time director of The Professional has spent the better part of a decade writing and producing slick, lowbrow action flicks like The Transporter and District 13. Colombiana hearkens back to his earlier success, in that it stars Star Trek's Zoe Saldana as Cataleya, a young girl trading her innocence for a big gun. At age nine, a Colombian drug lord kills Cataleya's parents, and she escapes her own death by running through South American slums like a kiddie-sized Jason Bourne. The girl then heads to Chicago, hooking up with la familia and vowing to grow up to be a hit lady.

Jump ahead to sometime later, and Cataleya has 22 kills under her belt. She tags each corpse with a lipstick drawing of an orchid to send the message to her parents' killer that she's coming for him. He gets it, and so does the CIA and the FBI. Oh, and Cataleya has a secret boyfriend who she visits after every murder, screwing his brains out and leaving before breakfast. To show you how unrealistic Colombiana can get, this chucklehead (Michael Vartan) is desperate to learn more about her. You know how guys are when a relationship has too much sex and not enough conversation.

It's pretty easy to figure out where this is all going, and when the killing gets underway, Colombiana can be bloodthirsty fun. Saldana is convincing as a ninja-like button gal, and Besson and co-writer Robert Mark Kamen ensure we can somewhat sympathize by making all of her targets awful human beings (Ponzi-schemin' embezzlers are always good for some cathartic carnage). Director Olivier Megaton's scattershot editing muddies up the choreography, but still, the bullets hit their mark.

Too bad there are so many gaps between kill shots. A half-hearted backstory overburdens the pyrotechnics, putting the supporting cast in awkward situations they are ill equipped to handle. (The Last Airbender's Cliff Curtis is particularly bad as Cataleya's handler, doing an impression of De Niro imitating Tony Montana.) In short, too much talk and not enough sexy. Which is great if you're Cataleya's boyfriend, but crappy for everyone else.

Speaking of...

Colombiana
Rated PG-13 · 107 min. · 2011
Official Site: colombiana-movie.com
Director: Olivier Megaton
Writer: Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Cast: Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan, Max Martini, Jordi Mollà, Lennie James, Sam Douglas, Stephen Martines, Doug Rao, Charles Maquignon and Beto Benites

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