In the 90s, Luc Besson made a nice little name for himself making kick-butt movies centered on kick-butt women– from La Femme Nikita to The Professional to The Fifth Element.

With Colombiana (which he wrote and produced), he still gives us a kick-butt female (Zoe Saldana), but the movie itself is just a weak slap on the wrist. It’s high-octane and whiz-bang, sure– but it too often ignores anything of substance, in favor of giving us Saldana slinking through ventilation ducts in a catsuit.

Saldana plays Cataleya, a Colombian woman who, as a girl, hears her mother and father get gunned-down by a bad guy’s henchmen. After a rather far-fetched escape to America, she lands on the doorstep of her shady Uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis) in Chicago, only to tell him that what she really wants to be is a killer.

Next thing we know it’s fifteen years later, and Cat is an assassin in California with 22 kills under her belt.

She’s in a relationship with a guy (Michael Vartan) who doesn’t know her real name or what she does. She’s a crazy-good killer, but we don’t even get a glimpse of her training. And she’s on a pretty extreme, vengeful path toward the bad guy who ordered her parents’ hit, but we still don’t have a clear sense of her history and how it drove her to this life.

Though a) Saldana succeeds at doing her best Jason Bourne/Ethan Hunt impression and b) certain sequences (including a prolonged scene where she kills a prisoner by breaking into jail) are fun, Colombiana feels like not much more than a half-baked Salt ripoff. And director Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3), who obviously kneels at the altar of Tony Scott, brings no unique style or ‘eye’ to the festivities.

Overall, Colombiana seems to be saying, “Don’t worry about her motivation; just check out this cool fight scene! And watch her shower! And watch her dance around in a paper-thin tank top for no apparent reason!”

C’mon, Luc. You’re better than that.

2.5/5 stars