Monday, 12 September 2011

Colombiana: Guns DO kill people

Long ago and far away, before it all - I imagine - started to seem too much like hard work, Luc Besson used to make movies. Nowadays I think he writes ideas on beermats and lets other people run with them, and for the most part. They. Are. Not. Good. Besson may be the most prolific producer of stupid movies since the Golan brothers quit showbiz.

Colombiana is, mirabile dictu, one of the less terrible ones, which is not to say that it's in the running for any more meaningful praise. I suspect that if it didn't have Zoe Saldana in the middle of it, it would be straightforwardly terrible pile of crap. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 28% and honestly that feels about right. There's some good action scenes, and Zoe can carry the stuff with no gunfire, but it's kind of a mess and there isn't really enough gunfire.

Usually with these kind of stupid movies where a chick goes around killing forty times her own weight in bad guys, there's all kinds of quibbling you can do about the internal logic. Colombiana's actually running on such a clean script that all I could come up with was a sense of bewilderment that we had to buy into a parkour chase through Bogota in 1992 when Parkour didn't really become a thing until about five years later. Niggling about that took a lot of the fun out of the chase, but that was about all the niggling I could get done. Other than that, the script is clean, tidy, sorted. It doesn't make a lick of sense in real world terms, but it's sound within its own structure. If you're going to buy the idea of a 5' 6" girl ninja assassin killing all around her, then you're not going to have anything left to argue about with the rest of the movie.

If you're a pop culture nut, you can laugh your ass off at Michael Vartan, who gets to partially reprise his long running role as "slightly clueless love interest to the kickass heroine" from Alias, but with every last vestige of his nuts cut away. I imagine that Vartan comes home from his trailer most nights and yells drunken incoherent rants down the phone at his agent about how he should be getting roles where he carries the movie. If I was the kind of person who could feel other people's pain - who am I kidding? I'd still keep the talent for people with real problems. But it IS funny.

And, just when you think you've seen it all, in the big climactic punch up, Zoe gets to do that classic Hollywood thing of killing the villain's number 2 with his own gun. Except that she field strips it on the fly and stabs him in the throat with the slide. Guns DO kill people. Useful lesson.

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