French theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Olivier Megaton|
Robert Mark Kamen
|Music by||Nathaniel Méchaly|
|Edited by||Camille Delamarre|
Stage 6 Films
|Box office||$61 million|
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 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 nine-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 nine-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 24-year-old 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. The message to let Don Luis know 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.
- Zoe Saldana as Cataleya Restrepo/Valarie Phillips
- Amandla Stenberg as Cataleya at age 9
- Jesse Borrego as Fabio Restrepo, Cataleya's father
- Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Alicia Restrepo, Cataleya's mother
- Cliff Curtis as Emilio Restrepo, Cataleya's uncle
- Ofelia Medina as Mama, Cataleya's grandmother
- Michael Vartan as Danny Delaney, Cataleya's lover
- Lennie James as FBI Special Agent James Ross
- Callum Blue as CIA Agent Steve Richard
- Beto Benites as Don Luis Sandoval, a drug lord
- Jordi Mollà as Marco, Don Luis's top henchman
- Graham McTavish as Head Marshal Warren, a U.S. Marshal
- Max Martini as FBI Agent Special Agent Williams
- Doug Rao as Michael Shino
- Sam Douglas as William Woogard, a man who absconded with $50 million, one of Cataleya's targets
- Affif Ben Badra as Genarro Rizzo, one of Cataleya's targets
- Ariane Brodier as Alexa
- Reem Kherici as Nymphette
- Billy Slaughter as Ryan
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.
Filming began in August 2010 in locations including Chicago, New Orleans, Mexico, and France. The film was produced by Besson's EuropaCorp company and the script was written by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.
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."
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." 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." 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." 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."
A nonprofit group called PorColombia criticized the film, saying that it stereotyped Colombia in a negative way. Carlos Macias, president of PorColombia, claimed that the film is proof of a "total lack of creativity" in "Hollywood". 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." 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. Martin-Jones states that in the film, a "character from the global south wreaks havoc on the wealthy and corrupt in the global north."  He states that the film "juxtaposes the spaces of wealth inequality that coexist and proliferate under globalization."  In the film, Saldana's travels "mirror[ ] the trajectory of many immigrants forced to travel to the global north due to conflict or poverty." The "film offers the possibility of considering the world from a different perspective than is usually seen in a Hollywood blockbuster."
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. 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
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, when production house EuropaCorp announced upcoming films, it mentioned that Colombiana 2 was in development.
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