‘Colombiana’ Features Guns and Sex, Other Female Action Tropes

Billed as an action-packed sexy thriller, “Colombiana” was released last week just before Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast. In the film, the beautiful and talented Zoe Saldana plays Cataleya, a young woman who has grown up to be an assassin after witnessing the murder of her parents as a child. Turning herself into a professional killer and working for her uncle, she remains focused on her ultimate goal: to hunt down and get revenge on the mobsters responsible for her parents’ deaths.

Now, where have we seen this before?

Answer: Everywhere. How does Hollywood reuse a tired and cliched storyline over and over again? Hire a HOT female lead actress, have her strut around in sexy lingerie, write a couple bad-ass one-liners, and give her a gun.

What’s My Motivation?

Quintessentially a B-movie despite having a well-known actress like Saldana (“Star Trek,” “Avatar,” “The Losers”), “Colombiana” does offer up more than the typical assassin-for-hire scenario. For one, Saldana can actually act. No stranger to big displays of emotion onscreen, she is easily capable of tugging at viewers’ heartstrings. She’s a gifted thespian.

Dress her in a pair of black boy shorts and black bra and she’s completely captivating. Saldana adds a measure of authenticity to any role, and she displays the requisite angst, vulnerability, and inner turmoil needed to get audiences looking past the sexiness and gun-toting to the woman behind it all. Smart move.

Where Have I Seen That Before?

Girls-with-guns is an unofficial sub-genre of action movies. We’ve seen it before: a beautiful woman with an axe to grind takes matters into her own hands. Many blaxploitation movies followed this trend. In the ’70s were was “Cleopatra Jones” and “Foxy Brown,” starring Tamara Dobson and Pam Grier, respectively.

In 1980 director John Cassavetes worked with Gena Rowlands to star in the critically acclaimed cult hit “Gloria.” The film was later remade starring Sharon Stone. More modern takes on the girls-with-guns plot include the “Resident Evil” franchise starring Milla Jovovich, and “Doomsday” with Rhona Mitra.

Will Audiences Show Up?

“Colombiana” amassed a soft weekend box office of $10.3 million. It was a very weak turnout at theaters across the U.S. but the jury is still out as to whether this lull was due to Hurricane Irene or an uninteresting group of new theatrical releases. On the flip side, even bad weather couldn’t keep “The Help” down, which took first place for the second week in a row. But what does this say for the Zoe Saldana vehicle, with a debut of $10 million that may not be enough for the film to break even?

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