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A woman holding a gun in two hands, as if in prayer.
French theatrical release poster
Directed byOlivier Megaton
Produced byLuc Besson
Ariel Zeitoun
Written byLuc Besson
Robert Mark Kamen
StarringZoe Saldana
Jordi Mollà
Lennie James
Michael Vartan
Cliff Curtis
Music byNathaniel Méchaly
CinematographyRomain Lacourbas
Edited byCamille Delamarre
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Stage 6 Films
Release date
  • 27 July 2011 (2011-07-27) (France)
  • 26 August 2011 (2011-08-26) (United States)
  • 9 September 2011 (2011-09-09) (United Kingdom)
Running time
108 minutes[1]
Budget$40 million[2][3]
Box office$61 million[3]

Colombiana is a 2011 French action thriller film co-written and produced by Luc Besson and directed by Olivier Megaton. The film stars Zoe Saldana[4] with supporting roles by Michael Vartan, Cliff Curtis, Lennie James, Callum Blue, and Jordi Mollà. "Colombiana" means a woman from Colombia. The film is about Cataleya (also a genus of orchids), a ten-year-old girl in Colombia whose family is killed by a drug lord. Fifteen years later, a grown Cataleya seeks her revenge.

While the film had a generally negative reception from critics, Saldana's action sequences were praised and the movie earned just under $61 million against a $40 million budget.


In 1992, in Bogota, Colombia, a drug lord's assassin named Fabio Restrepo tells his boss, Don Luis Sandoval, that he wants to leave crime behind. Don Luis is incensed that Restrepo thinks he can leave. Don Luis sends his henchman Marco and a group of killers to kill Restrepo and his family. Fabio gives his ten-year-old daughter Cataleya a SmartMedia computer memory card with the information on Don Luis' business and tells her it's her "passport"; he also gives her the address of her uncle Emilio, a criminal in Chicago, who will take care of her. The last thing he gives her is something that he says will keep her safe: his mother's cattleya orchid necklace. After saying their goodbyes, Fabio and his wife Alicia leave to battle Marco and his men but both are gunned down as Cataleya watches. Marco tries to manipulate her into giving him the disk, but Cataleya refuses and escapes, after stabbing Marco in the hand. She makes it to the U.S. Embassy and gives the information in exchange for a passport and passage to the United States. She escapes from the airport and takes a bus to Chicago. Once she finds Emilio, Cataleya asks him to train her as a killer.

Fifteen years later, a grown Cataleya has become an accomplished assassin. Her uncle serves as her broker, providing her with contracts. With each murder she commits, she leaves her signature, the Cattleya flower, which is a message to her ultimate target, Don Luis, that she is coming for him. After learning about this Colombian orchid, FBI agent James Ross can now link this case to more than twenty other cases. As a last resort, the FBI decides to inform the public about Cataleya's calling card. Don Luis, who is currently in a witness protection program overseen by CIA agent Steve Richard, realizes that Fabio's daughter is in the U.S. and orders Marco and his operatives to find her.

Cataleya uses every means at her disposal, including death threats to law enforcement officials, to find where Don Luis is hiding and avenge her family's death.

Main cast[edit]


The script for Colombiana was based on Mathilda, which was originally written by Luc Besson as a sequel to Léon: The Professional. After a disagreement with the Gaumont Film Company on how to proceed with the film, Besson and director Olivier Megaton reworked the script into a standalone film.[5]

Filming began in August 2010 in locations including Chicago, New Orleans, Mexico, and France.[6] The film was produced by Besson's EuropaCorp company and the script was written by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.[7][8]

David Martin-Jones, who wrote the article "Colombiana: Europa Corp and the Ambiguous Geopolitics of the Action Movie," stated that the film was likely to have been perceived by audiences to be an American Hollywood production since it "disguises its national origin to appeal to mainstream audiences"; he added that the trait of "aping the look of a Hollywood genre film, with a non-US twist" had been used in previous European films.[9]


Critical response[edit]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave Colombiana a 28% rating based on 100 reviews (average: 4.88/10), with the site's consensus that "Zoe Saldana has the chops but she's taken out by erratic and sloppy filmmaking."[10]

Christy Lemire of The Associated Press reviewed Colombiana, writing that "The director of La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element serves as co-writer and producer here, but this is very much a spin-off of his brand, a continuation of the kind of stereotype- and gravity-defying characters he's made his name on. Colombiana feels more hammy and muscular, though – but knowingly so, and that's what makes it solid, late-summer escapist fun."[11] Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times wrote: "This B-movie blast of bloody blam blam is the latest chapter in the Luc Besson book of badly bruised lovelies who are better not crossed. What he began in 1990 with Nikita followed with Léon in '94 and '97's The Fifth Element, (the last written with Robert Mark Kamen, who co-wrote Colombiana with Besson), he refines in Colombiana."[12] Claudia Puig of USA Today wrote: "This is a showy flower of an action film. Saldana doesn't get much of a chance to emote, but her action skills blossom."[13] Jordan Mintzer of The Hollywood Reporter, said that "There are guilty pleasures to be had in this frenzied B starring Zoe Saldana, who gives an acrobatic performance that makes the overcooked material watchable."[14]


A nonprofit group called PorColombia criticized the film, saying that it stereotyped Colombia in a negative way.[15] Carlos Macias, president of PorColombia, claimed that the film is proof of a "total lack of creativity" in "Hollywood".[16] When asked about the situation in an interview, Saldana said "Shame on them? I don't know, I wish I knew how to address stupid unintelligent comments but I don't, I'm not a stupid person."[15] In his review in Senses of Cinema, David Martin-Jones named and analyzed a number of shortcomings. He stated that in spite of all its resemblances to Hollywood blockbusters this film provided—in comparison—at least "a different perspective" concerning immigration and international wealth inequality.[9] Martin-Jones states that in the film, a "character from the global south wreaks havoc on the wealthy and corrupt in the global north."[9] He states that the film "juxtaposes the spaces of wealth inequality that coexist and proliferate under globalization."[9] In the film, Saldana's travels "mirror[ ] the trajectory of many immigrants forced to travel to the global north due to conflict or poverty."[9] The "film offers the possibility of considering the world from a different perspective than is usually seen in a Hollywood blockbuster."[9]

Box office[edit]

Colombiana debuted in second place in its first week at the U.S. box office with $10,408,176 behind The Help. It stayed No. 2 until 31 August 2011, when it went down to No. 3 behind The Help and The Debt.[17] The film has made $36,665,854 in United States and Canada, and $24,300,000 internationally, bringing its total to $60,965,854 worldwide.

Remake and sequel[edit]

A Bengali film production company Jaaz Multimedia created an unauthorised remake named Agnee. It stars Mahiya Mahi, Arefin Shuvo and Misha Sawdagor, and was released in February 2014. The film set a box office record in Bangladesh.

At the 2015 CineEurope, when the production house EuropaCorp announced upcoming films, it mentioned that Colombiana 2 was in development. While Saldana responded to an interviewer, in 2017, that she wouldn't mind reprising her role as Cataleya,[18] as of early 2019 there has been no further news from EuropaCorp to suggest a sequel is forthcoming.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "COLOMBIANA (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 31 August 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  2. ^ "EuropaCorp sets 'Colombiana'". Variety. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Colombiana (2011)". Box Office Mojo. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  4. ^ Mintzer, Jordan (26 July 2011). "Colombiana: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  5. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (25 August 2011). "Olivier Megaton Admits 'Colombiana' Inspired By Luc Besson's Unmade 'The Professional' Sequel Script". IndieWire.
  6. ^ "Louisiana Productions as of August 2010". Retrieved 24 May 2011. Archived September 18, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Michael Vartan Joins Zoe Saldana in Colombiana". Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Zoe Saldana Wants Revenge in Colombiana". Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Martin-Jones, David (1 March 2011). "Review: 'Colombiana: Europa Corp and the Ambiguous Geopolitics of the Action Movie'". Senses of Cinema.
  10. ^ "Colombiana (2011)". Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  11. ^ Lemire, Christy (24 August 2011). "Review: `Colombiana' knows how silly, sexy it is'". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  12. ^ Sharkey, Betsy (26 August 2011). "Movie review: 'Colombiana'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  13. ^ Puig, Claudia (26 August 2011). "'Colombiana': Zoe Saldana is killer". USA Today. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  14. ^ Mintzer, Jordan (29 July 2011). "Colombiana". Variety. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  15. ^ a b Cheney, Alexandra (August 23, 2011). "Vengeance Served Bold". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  16. ^ "Controversy Surrounds "Colombiana" Film For Stereotyping". NewsTaco. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  17. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for August 26–28, 2011". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  18. ^ Mohammed, Sagal (2017-04-26). "Zoe Sandana (sic) is up for Columbiana 2 & we're SO excited". Glamour. Retrieved 2018-09-23.

External links[edit]