Zoe Saldana is a latterday Columbian ninja, executing La Femme Nikita killings in this exploitation action-flick of slim girls, big guns, revenge and Missions Impossible.
In a tense opening fifteen minutes, nine year old Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) sees her parents murdered by drug barons, before making a thrilling but improbable escape on foot worthy of the French Connection; free-running over roof tops, markets and sewers.
Handing over her father’s incriminating lists to the Americans in exchange for asylum, the child makes it to America, escapes the CIA, finds her relatives in Chacago and bides her time for revenge. Like you do.
Think this reminds you of something? Leon, perhaps?
The next time we see Cataleya is sixteen years on, with Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar) carrying out a Mission Impossible break-in to murder a Federal prisoner in jail. All of which the ridiculously lithe Saladana carries off with barley a word of dialogue.
We are then into the personal life of the female assassin, taking on jobs she hopes will flush out the drug lord who killed her family, now under the protection of corrupt a CIA man (Billy Slaughter).
On her trail is another fashionably black FBI agent Ross (Lennie James) in the thankless role of pursuer, tracking down the hit ‘man’ responsible for twenty-two signature killings. He has only two clues to work from; the Cataleya orchid left at the scene of every hit and a slip-up by Cataleya’s decent artist boyfriend (Michael Vartan).
The movie barrels from one set-piece to the next; a series of ludicrous MI-style, overly complex break-ins, and escapes. For a genre movie, there’s a decent attempt at character building and Saldana has the acting weight to carry it.
But when all is said and done, the action climax has her running around in an armoured car with big guns shooting up the kingpin’s mansion. There’s a protracted punch-up with the chief henchman Marco (Jordi Mollà) that owes a lot to John Woo’s Hong Kong stunt choreographers, not to mention Jason Statham’s back catalogue, but unlike Gina Corano’s Haywire, you don’t believe a second of it.
And all of this springs from the fertile mind of… creator of Nikita and Leon himself, Luc Besson, and directed with immense subtlety by that master of social realism; Olivier Megaton. Subtle as a nuclear missile.
A worthy genre piece, and a decent vehicle for Saldana, but don’t feel agrieved if you missed it. RC
Director By: Olivier Megaton
Writers: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Running time: 1 hr. 48 min.
Genre: Action & Adventure
Cast: Zoe Saldana, Amandla Stenberg, Beno Benites, Callum Blue, Cliff Curtis, Jordi Molla, Lennie James, Michael Vartan,