In Colombia, feisty 9-year-old Cataleya (Stenberg) witnesses her parents' massacre of by Marco (Molla), henchman the drug kingpin Luis (Benites). Years layer (now Saldana) she's in Chicago, where she's been raised by her uncle (Curtis) to be a stealthy assassin. Now she's trying to draw Marco and Luis out of protective CIA custody by leaving clues at each murder scene. And it seems to be working. With an FBI agent (James) on her trail and a boyfriend (Vartan) who knows nothing, she's playing a dangerous game.
With references to Xena and Scarface, director Megaton uses deliriously bombastic camerawork, editing and sound, hyping up each situation into an orgy of explosive carnage. He can't seem to decide if Cataleya is Catwoman or part of the Impossible Mission Force, with her outrageous ability to quietly unleash mass destruction while slithering through air ducts and clinging to tiny ledges on the sides of buildings. Not to mention her amazing MacGuyver ingenuity with a cup of water and a teaspoon.
After the hammy prologue, the cast members play this dead straight, and Saldana even tries to find some emotional resonance in Cataleya's various relationships and the supposed catharsis of deadly vengeance. On the other hand, Megaton seems only interested in getting her into another gratuitously skimpy outfit.
For a change, it's the gifted male cast members whose characters are mere sketches; most are tenacious but utterly unable to either challenge or protect Cataleya.
As the story progresses, each set piece hinges on a highly unlikely coincidence, but they're all hilariously entertaining as Cataleya finds her most trusted allies in man-eating dogs and sharks. The slinky prison break-in is terrific, but that's nothing compared to her big-guns assault on a New Orleans mansion. Meanwhile, Cataleya's endless physical, technical as financial abilities niggle at the film's believability until the whole thing becomes yet another Besson-Kamen revenge fantasy. But it so shamelessly ridiculous that you can't help but enjoy the ride.
Run time: 108 mins
In Theaters: Friday 26th August 2011
Box Office USA: $36.7M
Box Office Worldwide: $64.9M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Production compaines: A.J.O.Z. Films, EuropaCorp, TF1 Films Production, Grive Productions, Canal+, CinéCinéma
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 27%
Fresh: 25 Rotten: 69
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Olivier Megaton
Producer: Luc Besson, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam
Starring: Zoe Saldana as Cataleya Restrepo, Cliff Curtis as Emilio, Callum Blue as Richard, Michael Vartan as Danny Delanay, Lennie James as Special Agent Ross, Amandla Stenberg as Cataleya Restrepo (Age10), Graham McTavish as Head Marshall Warren, Jesse Borrego as Fabio, Beto Benites as Don Luis, Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Alicia, Angel Garnica as Pepe, Ofelia Medina as Mama, Sam Douglas as William Woodgard, Graham McTavish as Head Marshall Warren, Charles Maquignon as Sergeant Bill Attwood, Jordi Mollà as Marco, Affif Ben Badra as Genarro Rizzo, Mark De Alessandro as SWAT, Max Martini as Agent Robert Williams
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