Apparently, allegedly, supposedly, Columbiana was originally envisioned as a sequel to The Professional (otherwise known as Leon), you know, Natalie Portman’s debut as a pre-pubescent assassin wannabe who is rescued and taken in by a super lone assassin played by Jean Reno. It’s kind of got cult classic status now and is a personal favourite of mine.
But let’s face it, even though it will get the fanboys all hot under the collar, the idea of a grown up Natalie Portman who has fulfilled her dream of becoming an assassin was always going to suck and piss all over the legacy of the original film.
And so I’m glad they didn’t go down that route. Instead, Columbiana as a similar premise, except with Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek, The Losers) in the lead role as a little girl who is determined to become an assassin after her family is wiped out by drug lords in Columbia and she escapes to America to live with her uncle. Fast forward a few years and Saldana has become the real deal — a super svelte, sexy, kick-ass assassin who is intent on tracking down and annihilating all those involved in her family’s demise.
As an action film, Columbiana does produce some thrills and clever ideas. Saldana looks the part and, because the film is co-produced and co-written by Luc Besson (the man behind The Professional), the style is slick and has that unique “Besson feel” to it — I’m thinking classics like The Fifth Element, Nikita, Taken, Taxi — all films he has been involved with in some capacity). The gun fights, hand-to-hand combat and in especially the chase scenes are all done extremely well.
That said, when all said and done, Columbiana will likely go down as one of the more forgettable Besson-related films. There’s just nothing in this film that feels fresh or special, and the storytelling by director Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3 — and said to be at the helm of the much anticipated Taken 2) leaves a lot to be desired. It was choppy and uneven and simply not engaging. I actually got a bit bored during the slower scenes.
But I will say that I found the action-packed scenes of Columbiana enjoyable when I was watching it. As a Zoe Saldana vehicle and popcorn movie, it delivers, but don’t go in expecting a whole lot more.
2.75 stars out of 5