ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Should I Watch..? 'Colombiana' (2011)

Updated on April 2, 2022
Benjamin Cox profile image

Benjamin has been reviewing films online since 2004 and has seen way more action movies than he should probably admit to!

Poster for the film
Poster for the film | Source

What's the big deal?

Colombiana is an action thriller film released in 2011 and is another chapter of Luc Besson's long list of films featuring angry women with guns. Originally intended as a sequel to Léon: The Professional featuring Natalie Portman's character Mathilda, the script eventually turned into this project when it became apparent Natalie Portman would be unable to reprise her role. Colombiana stars Zoe Saldana in the lead as a woman trained to become an assassin by her uncle in order to track down her parent's killers. Directed by Frenchman Olivier Megaton, the film received mixed reviews when it was released but an apparent sequel is currently in development, due to this film making a small profit.


2 stars for Colombiana

What's it about?

Bogota in 1992 and the film opens with Fabio Restrepo fearing for his life after drugs lord Don Luis Sandoval sends his men to kill him. Giving his young daughter Cataleya information on Don Luis and her mother's necklace, Fabio tells her of an uncle in Chicago she can go to if she ever finds herself alone. Cataleya then hears her parents being shot dead by Don Luis's henchman Marco but escapes to the US Embassy where she exchanges the information for safe passage to the US and begins her search for Uncle Emilio.

Fifteen years later and the 24-year-old Cataleya is now an accomplished assassin who leaves a calling card with each victim, a small Cattleya flower. With FBI Special Agent James Ross on her tail, she begins to realise that Don Luis is tracking her down and she must move quickly in order to complete her revenge. But with her uncle and boyfriend Danny in the firing line, can she keep her emotions in check before tragedy strikes?


What's to like?

Besson and Megaton know their target audience and deliver a full-throttle action blast with ludicrous action scenes and a sexy heroine at the centre. On both these fronts, Colombiana is a winner. Saldana is perfect as the poker-faced professional, even though the movie doesn't require much in the way of acting from her. She is an antidote to those who suggest that women have to be built like traditional male action stars like Stallone or Schwarzenegger to succeed. She's no Ronda Rousey - a UFC star currently forging a career in professional wrestling - but the role doesn't require a beefcake. Cataleya is stealthy instead of stocky and Saldana's performance is better than the film deserves.

The action is pretty non-stop from the thrilling opening pursuit through the slums of Bogota to the overblown shoot-out at the baddie's private mansion. In many ways, I actually felt the opening sequence featuring the young Stenberg was the best of the lot and marks her out as a potential star of the future. You can see how Colombiana sticks to Besson's traditional girl-with-guns formula, nowadays echoed in stuff like Hanna and Haywire. It's quick, excessively loud and in between bloody conflicts, Saldana exudes sensuality like few others can these days. She reminded me of Salma Hayek's Carolina in Desperado and trust me, that is no bad thing!

Saldana handles plenty of hardware for this explosive action movie
Saldana handles plenty of hardware for this explosive action movie | Source

Fun Facts

  • The movie makes reference to Léon: The Professional when Cataleya makes her first hit. The clothes she puts on afterwards - aviators, jacket, shorts and boots - match those of Mathilda's look in the earlier film.
  • This was the debut acting job for Amandla Stenberg who would go on to appear in The Hunger Games and Rio 2. Her first name is actually the Zulu word for 'power'.
  • Director Megaton took his name from his birthday - 6th August 1965 which was the 20th anniversary of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, Japan. Ironically, the bomb itself was only 16 kilotons - nothing like a megaton.

What's not to like?

It shouldn't come as any real surprise that this film is so closely related to Besson's classic picture Léon: The Professional. Granted, that film is one of my favourite movies of all time but this feels like a lazy retread through the exact same story. It also isn't shot that well - the action feels blurred and indistinct, as if the sound effects of gunfire or fisticuffs were all that was needed. What we have here is the world's first Impressionist action film. There is such a chronic lack of imagination that it's actually aggravating - when Cataleya slips into her full-body catsuit and starts slinking around, I half expected Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery to turn up in the middle of Entrapment.

Apart from Saldana's performance, there isn't anything exceptional about the picture to lift it out of the well-trodden mire it finds itself in. The action may be noisy and brutal but it's certainly nothing out of the ordinary or anything you've not seen already in dozens of other films. And action movie veterans like Besson and Megaton should know that action movies need more than just bullets and bombs. Die Hard had Bruce Willis cracking jokes to break the unbearable tension while The Matrix had technical wizardry the world hadn't seen before as well as a labyrinthine plot and a killer soundtrack. Colombiana is exactly what it says it is - a movie about a woman with weapons - but nothing more.

The film doesn't give much scope for Saldana to create and inhabit a character, unfortuately
The film doesn't give much scope for Saldana to create and inhabit a character, unfortuately | Source

Should I watch it?

Colombiana falls into the same trap that Haywire did - find a decent leading lady and let her blow stuff up to kingdom come. But it simply isn't interesting or exciting enough to justify spending a couple of hours with. Saldana's performance is the best thing about the movie which is a big budgeted B movie with the increasingly common twist of having a female protagonist. Action fans may get something out of it but personally, I wanted something more.

Great For: action fans, people waiting for a sequel to Léon: The Professional

Not So Great For: Colombians, action movie veterans, anyone overly familiar with Besson's work

What else should I watch?

Colombiana joins a long list of action movies with a female lead from Nikita (also written by Besson) and its American remake Point Of No Return, Haywire which offers a bit more plot to sink your teeth into and Hanna which is decidedly art-house in nature and the best of the lot, in my opinion. If this film is a shot of espresso then Hanna is like a large single malt, full of complex aromas and flavours and to be savoured slowly.

There are plenty of action movies with females working alongside their male co-stars. You only need to think of the likes of Terminator 2: Judgment Day or Aliens to recall Linda Hamilton or Sigourney Weaver with some serious hardware. Both of these are brilliant action movies that offer that little bit extra that Colombiana sadly fails to deliver.

Main Cast

Zoe Saldana
Jordi Mollà
Lennie James
Special Agent James Ross
Michael Vartan
Danny Delaney
Amandla Stenberg
Cataleya, aged 10
Cliff Curtis
Emilio Restrepo
Beto Benites
Don Luis Sandoval

Technical Info

Olivier Megaton
Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Running Time
108 minutes
Release Date
9th September, 2011
Action, Thriller

© 2015 Benjamin Cox


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)