Blu-ray
Give it a Rent
3.5 stars
Amazon
$10.98
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»
Overall Grade
3.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
3 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
1 Stars
High-Def Extras
1 Stars
Bottom Line
Give it a Rent

Colombiana

Street Date:
December 20th, 2011
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
December 20th, 2011
Movie Release Year:
2011
Studio:
Sony
Length:
111 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Executed with an adroit, vigorous spirit and a fast-paced efficiency meant to dazzle audiences, 'Colombiana' is an empty spectacle of action, hot-blooded vengeance and oozing sexuality, thanks to its star. And not once does the movie ever seem ashamed to embrace this viewpoint in the slightest, delivering precisely what it promises and nothing less.

Coming from the imagination of Luc Besson, (receiving writer/producer credits) and directed by Olivier Megaton, the film opens with a sequence in Colombia which dives right in. Taking a decent chunk of its runtime, the movie springs into action with sudden unexpectedness as thugs chase a little girl, Cataleya, through the streets of Bogotá after she vows vengeance on the men who killed her parents. Clearly establishing the mood and aim with visual feats of parkour, gunfire and rapid editing, filmmakers also wish their self-consciously pretentious exhibition of mindless entertainment to include some heart-rending emotion via the youngster's promise.

Afterwards, the movie quickly slows down and moves onto a standard revenge plot where things don't always go as planned. Trained in Chicago by her uncle Emilio, portrayed admirably by New Zealander Cliff Curtis in yet another Latino role, little Cataleya grows up to be the devastatingly gorgeous Zoe Saldana, now a professional and effectively silent assassin. Our introduction to her talents as a stealthy killer is actually an amusing mix of mild suspense and imaginative implausibility without going overboard.

The script also introduces some minor subplots in an FBI agent (Lennie Ross) taking notice of Cat's handy work and a love interest (Michael Vartan) unable to break down her barriers, but these aspects are smartly kept on the sidelines, called upon only to move the narrative forward. The center of our attention is always on Saldana, demonstrating her emotional range and bringing a surprisingly touching, eye-watering performance to a two-dimensional carbon cutout. Cat is the trademark femme fatale seen in most of Besson's work, but the beautiful Saldana gives the character a powerful depth which makes her seem genuine and her task that more complex. Saldana carries the film exceptionally well and grounds the story, serving as the primary reason for watching 'Colombiana.'

In fact, much of the action film feels like a Besson production, displaying that same visual eye-candy with gritty intensity seen in the likes of 'La Femme Nikita' and 'The Professional.' Interestingly, director Olivier Megaton, who's only other movie of note to American audiences is 'Transporter 3,' doesn't appear to have any qualms with this assessment, adopting a similar style and camerawork. We're even given a hallway sequence reminiscent of Léon's explosive finale and later, a hurried fight scene comparable to 'The Bourne Identity,' replacing the ball point pen with a pair of toothbrushes. It makes for a somewhat entertaining time, but Megaton lacks the chops to truly excite and sell the action with fervor.

Given all its flashy zing and superficial thrills, the most 'Colombiana' can muster up is a momentary piece of gratuitous diversion — the sort of B-quality guilty pleasure most are not embarrassed to admit enjoying. Certainly, the reason for this is Zoe Saldana's moving portrayal of a young woman thirsting for revenge, although it's a terrific performance wasted in a mediocre genre flick that will soon be forgotten.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases 'Colombiana' on a Region A locked, BD50 disc inside a blue eco-vortex case with a glossy cardboard slipcover and a code for an UltraViolet digital copy. This unrated edition of the film adds four minutes to the theatrical cut, but without that particular version included, we can't compare the differences between the two. At startup, the disc commences with a skippable collection of previews for other upcoming releases. Afterwards, viewers are greeted by the usual main menu options with full-motion clips and music.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Blasting its way unto Blu-ray, 'Colombiana' comes on strong with a great-looking 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.35:1), full of warmth and intensity.

Romain Lacourbas's photography pushes the secondary hues above others with lots of hot amber tones to give the movie an amusingly passionate flare. Primaries are not ruined by the intentional look, remaining vivid and bold throughout.

Contrast also runs slightly warmer with some fairly bright highlights, but the picture maintains excellent clarity and crisp, clean whites. Black levels are quite rich and energetic, providing the image with great dimensionality and outstanding delineation amongst the darkest shadows. Definition and resolution can be exceptional at times, but for most of the film's runtime, the transfer is nicely detailed with clean, distinct lines in nearly every frame, making this a great debut for a new release.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The perfect match to the video is this wonderfully entertaining DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, making great use of the higher resolution during the various action sequences.

Aside from a few moments of discrete effects that create a pleasing ambience, debris from explosions spread into the rear speakers fluidly with effective envelopment and satisfying directionality. The low-end provides a great deal of oomph and power to these scenes, filling the room with strong, far-reaching bass. Most of the lossless mix, however, is maintained in the front soundstage with a welcoming spaciousness and excellently balanced channel separation. Dynamics and acoustics are expansive and detailed, providing the design a great presence and sharp clarity. Vocals are very lucid and precise, allowing listeners to pick up on Cliff Curtis's forced accent and Zoe Saldana's powerful line delivery.

Altogether, this is a great high-rez track for a brainless action flick.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Sony keeps supplements very light and short so as to tempt fans into buying the version with additional bonus material.

  • Colombiana: The Makin of (HD, 25 min) — EPK-style look into the movie's making, filled with the usual praises about the director, story and performances. Cast & crew interviews discuss shooting locations, design and stunt choreography while showing lots of BTS footage throughout.

  • Cataleya's Journey (HD, 10 min) — A short piece dedicated to the film's main character and development, allotting enough time to the young, talented actress who played the child Cataleya.

  • Trailers (HD) — The same set of previews seen at startup.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

For this Blu-ray edition of the movie, Sony puts together a small assortment of high-def exclusives, along with BD-Live Functionality.

  • Assassins (HD, 12 min) — A piece on the character as a professional killer, her personality and Saldana's preparation for the role.

  • Training a Killer (HD, 6 min) — Saldana talks about her commitment to the role and the physical training she endured.

  • Take the Ride (HD, 8 min) — Another promotional piece providing a summary of the plot, a quick overview of the production and interviews with various members of the cast & crew.

Easter Eggs

Playstation 3 owners are given one attractive Easter egg. After inserting the disc, remain on the console's main menu and navigate over to the "Game" tab. Scroll down beneath the "Trophy Collection" option, and there you will find the option to install a cool "Colombiana Theme".

Final Thoughts

'Colombiana' is an empty spectacle of action and superficial thrills — the sort of B-quality guilty pleasure that only promises a diversion of popcorn entertainment. While most of the Luc Besson production is a standard vengeance plot, Zoe Saldana's terrifically moving performance as a young woman thirsting for revenge is the true selling point and the highlight of the entire film. The Blu-ray arrives with an excellent audio and video presentation, but a lackluster assortment of supplements. Genre fans, especially of Besson's style of visual feats and implausibility, are likely to enjoy, but others should a rental before buying.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
  • Region A Locked

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese

Supplements

  • Featurettes
  • Trailers

Exclusive HD Content

  • Featurettes
  • BD-Live Functionality
  • Digital Copy

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

Amazon
$10.98
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»

Related reviews