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A woman holding a gun in two hands, as if in prayer.
French theatrical release poster
Directed by Olivier Megaton
Produced by Luc Besson
Ariel Zeitoun
Written by Robert Mark Kamen
Starring Zoe Saldana
Cliff Curtis
Lennie James
Callum Blue
Jordi Mollà
Music by Nathaniel Méchaly
Cinematography Romain Lacourbas
Edited by Camille Delamarre
Distributed by EuropaCorp (France)
TriStar Pictures (USA)
Entertainment Film Distributors (UK)
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]
Country France
Language French
Budget $35 million[2][3]
Box office $61 million[3]

Colombiana is a 2011 French action film co-written and produced by Luc Besson and directed by Olivier Megaton. The French director's best known other movies are the actions films Transporter 3, Taken 2 and Taken 3. The film stars Zoe Saldana in the lead role[4] with supporting roles by Michael Vartan, Cliff Curtis, Lennie James, Callum Blue, and Jordi Mollà. "Colombiana" means a woman from Colombia, and is also a genus of orchids. The film is about Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg), a nine-year-old girl in Colombia whose family is killed by drug lord named Don Luis Sandoval (Beto Benites). Fifteen years later, a 24-year-old Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) has become an accomplished assassin. Even though Don Luis is now in the witness protection program in the U.S. and is guarded by many heavily armed gangsters, 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. While the film received a mixed reception from critics, with more negative reviews than positive reviews, Saldana's action sequences were praised and the movie earned $61 million against a $35 million budget.


In 1992, in Bogota, Colombia, a drug lord's assassin named Fabio Restrepo (Jesse Borrego) tells his boss, Don Luis Sandoval (Beto Benites), that he wants to leave crime behind. Don Luis is incensed that Restrepo thinks he can leave. Don Luis sends his henchman Marco (Jordi Mollà) and a group of killers to kill Restrepo and his family. Fabio gives his nine-year-old daughter Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) 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 (Cliff Curtis), 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 (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) 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. 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 24-year-old Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) 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. The message to let Don Luis know she is coming for him. After learning about this Colombian orchid, FBI Special Agent James Ross (Lennie James) 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 (Callum Blue), realizes that Fabio's daughter is in the U.S. and orders Marco (whose hand still hurts) and his operatives to find her. Cataleya does everything in her power to kill Don Luis, but not without some complications.

Main cast[edit]


Filming began around 20 August 2010 in locations including Chicago, New Orleans, Mexico, and France.[5] The film was produced by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp company and the script was written by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.[6][7]


Critical response[edit]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave Colombiana a 27% rating based on 94 reviews, with the site's consensus that "Zoe Saldana has the chops but she's taken out by erratic and sloppy filmmaking."[8]

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."[9] 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.”[10] 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.”[11] 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."[12]


A nonprofit group called PorColombia criticized the film, saying that it stereotyped Colombia in a negative way.[13] Carlos Macias, president of PorColombia, claimed that the film is proof of a "total lack of creativity" in "Hollywood".[14] 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."[13] In his review in Senses of Cinema, David Martin-Jones named and analyzed a number of shortcomings. Even so, he stated finally 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.[15] Martin-Jones states that in the film, a "...character from the global south wreaks havoc on the wealthy and corrupt in the global north." [15] He states that the film "...juxtaposes the spaces of wealth inequality that coexist and proliferate under globalization." [15] In the film, Saldana's travels "...mirro[r] the trajectory of many immigrants forced to travel to the global north due to conflict or poverty."[15] The " offers the possibility of considering the world from a different perspective than is usually seen in a Hollywood blockbuster."[15]

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.[16] The film has made $36,665,854 in United States and Canada, and $24,300,000 internationally countries, 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 CineEurope 2015 in June, production house EuropaCorp announced upcoming films and also quietly mentioned that Lucy 2 & Colombiana 2 were in development.

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. ^ "Louisiana Productions as of August 2010". Retrieved 24 May 2011. Archived September 18, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Michael Vartan Joins Zoe Saldana in Colombiana". Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  7. ^ "Zoe Saldana Wants Revenge in Colombiana". Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Colombiana (2011)". Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  9. ^ Lemire, Christy (24 August 2011). "Review: `Colombiana' knows how silly, sexy it is'". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  10. ^ Sharkey, Betsy (26 August 2011). "Movie review: 'Colombiana'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Puig, Claudia (26 August 2011). "'Colombiana': Zoe Saldana is killer". USA Today. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  12. ^ Mintzer, Jordan (29 July 2011). "Colombiana". Variety. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Cheney, Alexandra (August 23, 2011). "Vengeance Served Bold". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 2, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Controversy Surrounds "Colombiana" Film For Stereotyping". NewsTaco. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2011. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Martin-Jones, David (1 March 2011). "Review: 'Colombiana: Europa Corp and the Ambiguous Geopolitics of the Action Movie'". Senses of Cinema. 
  16. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for August 26–28, 2011". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 

External links[edit]