Let us take a moment to admire the kind of action star Zoe Saldana plays in Colombiana. Cataleya, her character, is not one of those uses-her-sexuality-as-a-weapon female assassins we’ve seen in hundreds of action movies over the last couple of decades—instead, she’s a stone-cold regular assassin. She will hit you with a truck and shoot a fucking rocket launcher down your throat until you are dead, just like Jean-Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal or any of those other male action stars you’ve gotten tired of watching over the years. Like, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger, she saves the sex for off-hours, with a hot piece of ass she keeps on the side—in this case, a forgettably unkempt painter who wants the aloof Cataleya to share her feelings with him. This is surely some kind of great moment in idiot-action-movie equality, and we should appreciate it.

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This doesn’t make Colombiana any smarter, mind you. The bad guy is a comically evil drug lord who killed Cataleya’s parents years before. A few scenes are so inept that you have to wonder if producer/screenwriter Luc Besson’s “script” was just a smudged cocktail napkin. The plot is about as complex as knocking over a line of three dominoes—a gruesome death is suggested and then that gruesome death happens until revenge is achieved. Everything is as shallow and transparent as a pane of glass.

But when Colombiana’s moving along, it sure is fun. Saldana is delightfully game for the whole action heroine routine, wearing a skintight bodysuit for skulking around a police station or swimming with sharks in a nighttime raid on a Bernie Madoff–like hustler’s compound. She’s one of those impossibly perfect killing machines whose plans involve a million tiny details that all have to cooperate perfectly or her whole plan will be blown. Like most of the films Besson produces, Colombiana is full of occasionally inventive action scenes, globe-hopping, muddied-up morals to keep things nice and lurid, and it has a kick-ass main character. It’s not quite as good as the insane Transporter 2, for example, but it’s far superior to the logy Transporter 3—an unsurprising but pleasant experience if you know what you’re getting into and you spring for a matinee. recommended

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