| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
Fabio gives his nine-year-old daughter Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) a SmartMedia computer memory card with the information Don Luis wants and tells her it's her "passport"; he also gives her the address of her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis), a criminal in Chicago, who will take care of her. The last thing he gives her is something that he says will keep her safe: his mother's cattleya orchid necklace. After saying their goodbyes, Fabio and his wife Alicia (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) leave to battle Marco and his men but both are gunned down as Cataleya watches.
Marco tries to manipulate her into giving the information, but when he asks what she wants, she stabs him in the hand with a knife and replies "To kill Don Luis", and escapes. She makes it to the U.S. Embassy and gives the information in exchange for a passport and passage to the United States. She escapes from the airport through a bathroom window and takes a bus to Chicago. Once she finds Emilio, Cataleya asks him to train her as a killer.
Fifteen years later, a 24-year-old Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) has become an accomplished assassin. Her uncle serves as her broker, providing her with contracts. She is assigned to kill the notorious gangster Genarro Rizzo (Affif Ben Badra), who is currently in police custody.
Implementing an elaborate plan, she gets herself arrested while dressed in a disguise. She manages to escape from her cell with tools she hid in her disguise, travel through the ventilation system, kill Rizzo, and return to her cell.
The next morning she is released. As with her previous murders, she leaves her signature, the Cattleya flower, which is a message to her ultimate target, Don Luis. After learning about this Colombian orchid, FBI Special Agent James Ross (Lennie James) can now link this case to more than twenty other cases.
As a last resort, the FBI decides to inform the public about Cataleya's calling card. Don Luis, who is currently in a witness protection program overseen by CIA Agent Steve Richard (Callum Blue) realizes that Fabio's daughter is in the U.S. and orders Marco (whose hand still hurts) and his operatives to find her.
Emilio is furious when he learns Cataleya has been killing with a "signature" since she has thereby put her relatives in grave danger. Cataleya's newest target is William "Willy" Woogard (Sam Douglas), a millionaire who fled to the Caribbean with $50 million from his Ponzi scheme. She sneaks into his house and shoots him, and he falls inside his shark tank, where the sharks maul him to death.
Under the name "Jennifer", Cataleya later visits her lover, Danny Delaney (Michael Vartan), and spends the night with him. Danny snaps a picture of her while she sleeps. That morning she meets with her uncle, Emilio, who furiously tells her that eight people were slaughtered in Miami, one of them being his friend. Emilio then retires his niece from her work.
Danny shows her picture to his friend Ryan, but when Danny leaves to stop his car from being ticketed, Ryan forwards the photo to his sister-in-law, a police clerk, to find out who she is. Now in the police computers, the photo is recognized by the body/morph recognition software as that of the woman who was in the same prison as Genarro Rizzo the night he was killed.
Detective Ross is notified and the FBI quickly trace her location and they are supported by a SWAT team as they leave for her apartment. After Cataleya says goodbye, she goes home, but gets a call from Danny, who confesses that he took a picture of her. Upon seeing the SWAT team enter the apartment, she manages to escape through the garage and goes to Emilio's home, only to discover that Mama, Pepe (Angel Garnica), and Emilio have been tortured and killed by Don Luis's men, leaving her devastated.
Cataleya ambushes FBI detective Ross in his home in order to find out where Don Luis is. She threatens to kill Ross's family members one by one if he doesn't try harder to help her. Fearing for the safety of his family, Ross meets with CIA agent Steve Richard, who is unhelpful at first, but after Cataleya fires a warning shot through his "bulletproof" office window with a large-calibre sniper rifle, Richard gives up Don Luis's current location. Cataleya then goes to a Louisiana land surveyor and threatens him for the floor plans of Don Luis' mansion.
Cataleya assaults Don Luis's premises with heavy weaponry and wipes out all the guards, then confronts Marco and, after a violent hand-to-hand battle, stabs him in the neck. Don Luis escapes in a van, but is stopped by a garbage truck. Cataleya calls him on Marco's cell phone, but Don Luis laughs and says that he will kill her and she will never find him because he is never where Cataleya wants him to be.
Cataleya responds that he is exactly where she wants him to be. Pepe's two attack dogs are right behind Luis' seat and on her command they violently maul Luis to death. Danny is interrogated by the FBI, but when Ross leaves, Danny gets a cellphone call from
Cataleya (who gives him her real name) and he tells her he loves her. Ross' technical team alerts him that Danny is on the phone, but Ross realizes that Danny cannot be charged with any crime, so he is released. Cataleya boards an interstate bus headed for an unknown destination.
- Zoe Saldana as Cataleya Restrepo/Valerie Phillips
- Amandla Stenberg Young Cataleya Restrepo
- Jesse Borrego as Fabio Restrepo
- Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Alicia Restrepo
- Cliff Curtis as Emilio Restrepo
- Ofelia Medina as Mama
- Michael Vartan as Danny Delaney
- Lennie James as FBI Special Agent James Ross
- Callum Blue as CIA Agent Steve Richard
- Beto Benites as Don Luis Sandoval
- Jordi Mollà as Marco, Don Luis's top henchman
- Graham McTavish as U.S. Head Marshal Warren
- Max Martini as FBI Special Agent Williams
- Doug Rao as Michael Shino
- Sam Douglas as William Woogard
- Affif Ben Badra as Genarro Rizzo
- Ariane Brodier as Alexa
- Billy Slaughter as Ryan
The filming dates for "Colombiana" took place around August 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois, New Orleans, Louisiana, Mexico and France.
The movie was based on a script that was set to be the sequel for the film "Leon: The Professional" and was supposed to be set to follow Natalie Portman's character, Mathilda as she tracked down & killed the characters that wronged her & Leon, but Natalie Portman's successful career kept her being available for the film, so the script was re-written into "Colombiana."
A nonprofit group called PorColombia criticized the film, saying that it stereotyped Colombia in a negative way.
Carlos Macias, the president of PorColombia, claimed that the film is proof of a "total lack of creativity" of "Hollywood".
When asked about the situation in an interview, Zoe Saldana said, "Shame on them? I don't know, I wish I knew how to address stupid unintelligent comments but I don't, I'm not a stupid person".
In his review in Senses of Cinema, David Martin-Jones named and analyzed a number of shortcomings. Even so, he stated finally that in spite of all its resemblances to Hollywood blockbusters this film provided in comparison at least "a different perspective" concerning immigration and international wealth inequality.
"Columbiana" debuted at #2 at the box office, grossing $10,408,176 during its opening week, coming in behind the film The Help. Domestically, it grossed $36,665,854 and $60,965,854 worldwide.
The movie was given a 27% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 94 reviews. The critics' consensus said, "Zoe Saldana has the chops but she's taken out by erratic and sloppy filmmaking".
Christy Lemire of The Associated Press wrote: "The director of La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element serves as co-writer and producer here, but this is very much a spin-off of his brand, a continuation of the kind of stereotype- and gravity-defying characters he’s made his name on. Colombiana feels more hammy and muscular, though – but knowingly so, and that’s what makes it solid, late-summer escapist fun".
Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times wrote: “This B-movie blast of bloody blam blam is the latest chapter in the Luc Besson book of badly bruised lovelies who are better not crossed. What he began in 1990 with Nikita followed with Léon in ’94 and ’97's The Fifth Element, (the last written with Robert Mark Kamen, who co-wrote Colombiana with Besson), he refines in Colombiana.”
USA Today's Claudia Puig wrote, “This is a showy flower of an action film. Saldana doesn’t get much of a chance to emote, but her action skills blossom".
Jordan Mintzer of the Hollywood Reporter, said that "There are guilty pleasures to be had in this frenzied B starring Zoe Saldana, who gives an acrobatic performance that makes the overcooked material watchable".
Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C" grade, saying, "Colombiana is silly fun at first, but as her break-ins and escapes grow absurdly complex - and her motivations increasingly muddy - it turns into the same silly stuff we've seen before, a dish of revenge served not so much cold as reheated".
Slant Magazine's Nick Schager said that Zoe Saldana "is such a sultry and surprisingly heartfelt executioner that she often finds a way to make this by-the-numbers genre retread feel, if not fresh, then at least sporadically electric".
2012 ALMA Awards
- Favorite Movie Actress- Drama\Adventure: Zoe Saldana (won)
2011 Alliance of Women Film Journalists
- Kick Ass Award for Best Female Action Star: Zoe Saldana (nominated)
2012 BET Awards
- Best Actress: Zoe Saldana (nominated)
2012 Black Reel Awards
- Best Actress: Zoe Saldana (nominated)
2012 Golden Trailer Awards
- Best Thriller (nominated)
2012 Image Awards
- Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture: Zoe Saldana (nominated)
2012 Teen Choice Awards
- Choice Movie Actress- Action: Zoe Saldana (won)