After witnessing her parents’ murder as a child in Bogota, Cataleya Restrepo grows up to be a stone-cold assassin. She works for her uncle as a hitman by day, but her personal time is spent engaging in vigilante murders that she hopes will lead her to her ultimate target: the mobster responsible for her parents' death.
09 Feb Colombiana (2011)
Episodes of Death
Long form is so hard that most films will do anything to get out of it. A standard escape is to have three acts that the viewer will accept as belonging together. Each of these can then be a small story by itself.
And that is what we have here. We accept it because the grand stroke of revenge is so powerful that we simply accept it as the subterranean driver that binds the acts.
The first of these teased with promise. A little girl sees her parents murdered and surprises us as she escapes through a warren of semipoverty and negotiates with the CIA to escape the country. We never learn the details, and that enhances the story. Also cool is Luc‘s influence in acrobatics on buildings.
Act two has the now adult woman as a contract killer. So much of this makes no sense. But previously we were primed to store latent facts that may at some point — we suppose — surprise as they take is in strange directions. It doesn’t happen. Instead we simply learn that she is asexually brilliant at what she does.
Act three is a standard setup as she takes her revenge on the original offenders, now in New Orleans. Again, there is an unspecified CIA connection that we never are told. But by this act we have given up hope for any twists or surprises. It all travels a straight line.
Three acts, then, but three different stories, each rooted in a different genre with different expressions and nodes.
I went to this because I am interested in the evolution of women‘s roles in these action films. But this seems to have been made in another era. This is a woman who is weak. She is a natural genius at what she does, natch, but what she does is an addiction. She kicks ass but is the loser. There is a patch at the end where we are supposed to be appeased that life will be fine from now on because (that important word) because she has found a good man. It is all tragic, and discouraged me greatly.
The middle act, where we see episodes where she cleverly extinguishes men then draws her signature orchid on their chests (no kidding) is as much a story of the filmmaker making his pieces work, but losing his soul.
Zoe has a wasted grace in how she moves. Lets hope for better for her.
Posted in 2011
Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.