Blu-ray Review Colombiana Blu-ray Review

Neil Middlemiss

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Co-writer and producer Luc Besson has established himself as the godfather of the modern revenge flick. In his Transporter films, Jason Statham plays a man tasked with bringing down those who cross him. In his successful Taken, Liam Neeson plays a man intent on exacting great vengeance upon those who kidnapped his daughter, and all the way back to his 1990 film, Leon (The Professional), Besson was placing the heavy hand of revenge upon the foes of a very young Natalie Portman whose father was murdered in front of her. And so we have Colombiana, born of that cloth and soaked with the furious and stylized action that has become staples of this thriving sub-genre. The results are not equal to Besson’s prior successes, but Saldana’s performance makes up much of the ground lost to familiar plotting and other plot/direction drawbacks.
 

Colombiana


Studio: Sony Pictures
Year: 2011
US Rating: Unrated
Film Length: 111 Minutes
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1080P High Definition 16X9
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English, French & Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Release Date: December 20, 2011
Review Date: December 30, 2011


 

“Never forget where you came from”

The Film
3/ 5

Zoe Saldana stars as Catalaya, the daughter of parents (Pepe - Angel Garnica and Mama - Ofelia Medina) who were gunned down before her Marco (Jordi Mollà) and other dutiful henchman of a notorious drug king-pin, Don Luis (Beto Benites), in their humble Columbian home. Catalaya’s father worked for Luis and was slain for attempting to part ways with his violent boss, but before his demise, he placed in Catalaya’s possession the means to leave Columbia and the address of her uncle, Emilio (Cliff Curtis) living in Chicago, Illinois. Young Catalaya escapes, but vows revenge upon the men who killed her parents. She chooses to train as killer so that she can kill everyone who took her parents away from her.

Zoe Saldana is slick and sexy as Colombiana – exuding a cool demeanor and calculating intelligence as she executes her sometimes elaborate schemes to kill and tag with a drawing of her namesake orchid on the targets on her take-down list. The tagging is designed to send a message to Don Luis that she is coming for him (and to flush him out of his CIA-enabled hiding), but it also serves as a tightening belt of law enforcement encroachment as they hunt down an unknown killer on a seemingly unassailable pursuit of revenge.

She is pursued by Ross, a capable agent in the FBI, played by the Lennie James (a solid British actor who seems to be showing up all over the place), and even has a love interest (a poorly introduced character, Danny Delaney, played by Hawthorne’s Michael Vartan) – and these additional story points provide additional emotional and physical conflict designed to lend gravity to the plotting and weight to Cataleya’s need to fulfill her mission. It works to a certain extent, but tangled up with these elements are contrived conveniences included merely to move the plot along – something even a B-movie action adventure like Colombiana could do well without. Performances from the other players are all fine for the film, with Jordi Mollà exuding a familiar slimeball odor (similar to the role he played in Bad Boys II) and Cliff Curtis pulling off an acceptable Colombian accent for a New Zealander.

Director Olivier Megaton seems somewhat ill-at-ease shooting the opening segment set in Columbia. It’s a brutal opening followed by an exciting chase, sadly diluted by heavy-handed editing and a failure to know exactly where to place the camera to capture the action. Megaton also fails to extract a compelling dramatic reaction from Amandla Stenberg who plays the young Cataleya. Stenberg is perfectly capable during the action of the chase – and even as she interacts with her uncle when she makes it to the relative safety of the United States, but what is arguably intended to be the dramatic core of the film (and the traumatic catalyst for who Cataleya becomes), is presented as less-than-meaningful event - quite underwhelming. Adding insult to injury is an overly insistent score by Nathaniel Méchaly, who mimics David Arnold’s far more capable opening chase music from the Bond adventure, Casino Royale, and even takes time to ape Zimmer’s brooding music from The Dark Knight. It conspires to sap entertainment value from what is already a revenge flick in need of something more original to keep its head above water.


The Video
5/5


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has given Colombiana a fine looking Blu-ray release featuring vividly sharp image detail, suitably saturated colors, and top-notch contrast and black levels appropriate for how it was filmed (Super 35). The warm hue that dominates the color palette of the film (intrusively in some Chicago scenes) does not dampen the texture and pop of other colors in the spectrum. Consider Saldana’s form fitting outfit she adorns to kill one of her targets, the grey/blue of her suit is crisp on the screen, and this can be said of other complimentary color elements within the frame. The level of detail is really something to be impressed by, and Sony remains a leader in high definition home media product.
 

The Sound
5/5

As with the image, the audio options that accompany Colombiana are superb. Featured here is an aggressive, bass-rich DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that brings out a visceral quality out of the aural experience. Dynamic action in the surrounds – with flying bullets, screeching cars, and forceful explosions ripping around the speakers – is excellently presented along with another issue free presentation of dialogue primarily from the center channel. There isn’t much more to say besides batting down the hatches before you watch this with the volume up!

 

The Extras
3 / 5

Colombiana: Making Of (25:10): A longer than expected ‘behind the scenes’ that discusses characters and plot, but doesn’t do much to examine the making of the film (the how, why and much of the where).

Cataleya's Journey (9:30): The two actresses playing the role – at age 10 and 28 – talk about their approach to the role and who Catalaya is.

Assassins (11:55): Exclusive to the Blu-ray release, this special feature examines the Catalaya character in more detail.

Training a Killer (6:00): Another exclusive to the Blu-ray release, this special feature takes a look at the fighting style of Catalaya and why she fights the way she does

Take the Ride (7:45): The final exclusive to the Blu-ray release takes a look at the international flavor of the production

Trailers

Ultraviolet Digital Copy


Final Thoughts

Colombiana is a perfectly capable B-level revenge film with a better than necessary performance from the lovely (and talented) Zoe Saldana. The drawbacks of the film, however, tend to interfere with the escapist nature of the tale, with choppy editing, poorly conceived cinematography (the cold of Chicago’s city is lit the same as the warm, gritty streets of Columbia), and a few lazy plot elements giving rise to rolling eyes.

Audiences didn’t seem taken by the film as they have with similarly toned films, the aforementioned Taken and Transporter films. Perhaps the lack of originality sung loudly in the previews. Or perhaps they could not buy Saldana as a slick action star – a shame, since she is certainly the highlight of the entire film. Channeling her similar character from last years underappreciated film, The Losers, she owns the screen and, if the actresses comments come true, will serve her well as she elevates her take on the classic Star Trek character, Uhura – to fight capable heights!

 

Overall (Not an average)
3.5/5
 
Neil Middlemiss
Kernersville, NC
 

Adam Gregorich

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Thanks Neil. This has been on my shortlist to watch. I meant to do it yesterday, but the wife vetoed it in favor of another title. Interesting observation about the cinematography.
 

Neil Middlemiss

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Adam Gregorich said:
Thanks Neil. This has been on my shortlist to watch. I meant to do it yesterday, but the wife vetoed it in favor of another title. Interesting observation about the cinematography.
Spousal veto power is impossible to overcome :) I hope you enjoy it when you get to see it.
 

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