starring Zoe Seldana, Michael Vartan, and Cliff Curtis
directed by Olivier Megaton
screenplay by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
TriStar Pictures (2011)
I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie when I sat down to watch it, because I can't remember it making much of a dent at the box office. It's apparently turned a profit though, which is good because it might warrant seeing Zoe Seldana in more leading roles, because even with a movie as thinly scripted as this one she does a bang-up job.
She plays Cataleya, the daughter of a drug runner who is murdered by a Colombian drug lord, along with Cataleya's mother, while young Cataleya (played by Amanda Stenberg) watches. After escaping to America, she finds her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis) and convinces him to teach her how to become an assassin. The comparisons to The Professional become pretty clear at this point, but the movie really gets going when it jumps ahead to Seldana as Cataleya. She is like a viper, striking suddenly and swiftly, then slithering off before anyone even knows she was there.
As far as character development goes, there is some kind of romance between Cataleya and an artist named Danny (Michael Vartan), which I guess is supposed to harken back to her desire to be normal once her thirst for revenge is satiated, but to me it just felt tacked on and a distraction from what was really the only interesting thing about the movie: the action.
Zoe Seldana could easily become an action hero if she set her sights on that. And after seeing this movie, I kind of wondered what chance there was of an all-female version of The Expendables with the likes of Angelina Jolie and Milla Jovovich--not likely, I'm guessing.
The action scene are laid out beautifully with as much artistic flare you might expect from a higher end film. Part of the beauty comes from Seldana dance background, which is used to great effect as she lithely thwarts her enemies with acrobatic feats and slick martial arts moves. Even the kid, Stenberg, has a moment to shine on the action side of things with a chase scene through the tightknit alleyways of Bagota, Colombia.
The villains are about as richly drawn as stick figures, which is a shame because a nemesis that actually felt like a real person instead of a caricature would have done wonders for any lasting impression of this movie. In the end, it's disposable popcorn fare that is easily forgotten except for a couple key action sequences. Zoe Seldana is very much the star of the this movie and without here, there isn't much of a reason to watch it.