Why we're optimistic about Colombiana

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Mainstream Hollywood doesn’t give us a lot of Latin protagonists, and if they do they’re often not played by Latino actors. Even then, the movies that do make it through the studio system are very often…well…bad, both in their execution and their inception; I don’t know if anyone was clamoring for a Spy Kids 4, but we sure got it anyway, and if last week’s box office was any indicator, no one really cared. (Fun fact: the Spy Kids still crushed Conan, saw him driven before them, and heard the lamentations of his women.)

At first glance, this weekend’s release Colombiana looks like more of the same – Sex! Explosions! Sexplosions! – but upon closer inspection there might just be something here. Unfortunately as of this posting the movie has literally no Rotten Tomatoes score which is unusual (no one at all has seen it yet and posted a review?) and often bodes ill, but, well…the film is directed by Olivier Megaton, whose IMDB page so far reads like the menu at a French restaurant but who has been chosen to helm the third installment of the Transporter series, the first of which was written by French action movie maker Luc Besson, who’s responsible for such smart action classics as Leon: The Professonal, La Femme Nikita, and (okay, it’s schlocky but it’s still good) The Fifth Element. Which brings us to the writer: it’s written by Besson.

So we’re already excited, and we haven’t even gotten to the star, yet.

Zoe Saldana is the titular colombiana-in-question. Her films have been hit-or-miss in the past, but there hasn’t been a single one in which she isn’t completely winning – even in a bad movie, she’s an undeniable bright spot, whether it’s holding her own in a fist fight with Dr. Denny Duquette in The Runaways or twelve feet tall and blue in Avatar. Even if Colombiana isn’t fantastic, Zoe will be, and even better…well…there aren’t many leading ladies in Hollywood that look like her, so it’s great to see a big budget, mainstream film riding entirely on the abilities of a Latina with a complexion darker than Salma Hayek’s.

We’re not expecting Colombiana to win any Oscars, here, but we don’t think it’s as easy to dismiss as it might have been. (I mean, who would have thought this year’s Fast Five would have gotten a 78% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes?) Based on the evidence, though, we’re hoping it’s smart, slick, well directed, and exciting. For Latinos in Hollywood, this has the potential to be important.