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Wondering what action movie to see this summer? Consider Colombiana, an action/adventure starring Zoe Saldana as a young woman who witnessed both of her parents murder by the mob when she was nine years old. Similar to Angelina Jolie’s character in Wanted, she grows up to be a “stone-cold” assassin, embarking on a fifteen year journey to hunt down the mobster responsible for her parents murders and achieve vengeance. During this time, she works for her uncle as a hit(wo)man by day, and come nightfall she becomes a rogue killer. Responsible for over 22 deaths within four years, she is getting closer to her target and, typical of Saldana, is looking good while doing it.
As its name indicates, the film is set in Bogota, Colombia, though it is filmed in throughout the United States, Mexico and Paris studios. With a focus on Latin America, many message boards are questioning the stereotypes which may arise due to the setting in Latin American culture. The murder and expected drug use–along with the common misconception that Bogota is located in a tropical jungle when it apparently has a more similar climate to Chicago, rarely reaching above 65 degrees Fahrenheit– has many Colombian natives questioning the authenticity. One blogger wrote, “I just hope to find in this movie at least some slight interest on the true Colombia, and not some pretension of creating a Latin Lara Croft raised in a non-existing and decontextualized Bogota.” With a looped tagline in the trailer of “Never forget where you came from,” will the movie live up to a higher standard?
Directed by Olivier Megaton and produced by Luc Besson, the French pair will take on the challenge. Megaton is best known for Transformers 3 (2008), though some would argue that it was their least favorite installment of the series. In addition, Transformers 3 is his only English-language film to date, making for some speculation amongst movie goers if he will be able to deliver.
However, teamed up with mega-producer Luc Besson the odds are looking quite likely. Besson wrote and directed the 1990 box office hit Nikita, which was focused around a femme fatale assassin. He is also responsible for other action films, such as The Fifth Element and Taken, making him a veteran of putting action and powerful female characters onto the screen.
To add to the hype is Saldana herself, who has become cinema’s “bad ass female” through her roles in the highly acclaimed Avatar and Star Trek. Present in a wave of action heroines, Saldana continues to hold her role as a sexually empowered and machine gun wielding vigilante, prevailing above whoever has done wrong until personal justice is achieved. Will she help make Colombiana a box office hit that stays true to Colombian culture, while asserting her presence as a femme fatale?