It can give a thinking person pause to read the tagline on the poster for this movie where Zoe Saldana plays an acrobatic woman on a lifelong mission of brutal vengeance and bloodsport aimed at the bad guys who killed her parents. It goes a little something like this: "Revenge is beautiful."
You might not have ever considered that absolute fact of life before. Maybe you even thought that the opposite was true. Like maybe you saw the original 1972 version of Last House on the Left, or, if you're even more of a smartypants, Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, and watched as both sets of movie parents systematically executed the men who killed their respective daughters. From those viewing experiences, perhaps you were left with the overwhelming feeling that revenge was not, in fact, a thing that made you feel especially beautiful once you were done with it.
So that's a lesson this late-August movie has in store for you, among many, many others such as (what follows are some low-level spoilers that will in no way deter your enjoyment of the film):
1. Scientific flower names. Nobody in the movie is named Colombiana. Saldana's character's name is Cataleya, after a variety of orchid with floppy leaves. It provides a very cool signature mark she makes on her victims in Sharpie as she progresses, one by one, to the ultimate bad guy who killed her parents. It also helps everybody figure out that she's the boss of killing all these bad guys; everybody, that is, except the dumb main detective, who shouts, "We're not looking for a woman! It's not possible!"
2. Eight-year-old girls who witness the gunning down of their parents by henchmen of powerful crime lords named Don Luis immediately turn from milk-drinking innocents to dead-eyed murder-machines capable of concealing hunting knives in their schoolgirl skirts. At the exact moment of parental demise, the kid's revenge power is activated and she is then competent enough to haul out that knife with flashing cobra moves and stab one of the henchmen (cool Spanish actor Jordi Molla), while yelling, "I WANT TO KILL DON LUIS!"
3. Scorned eight-year-old girls are also masters of parkour, able to navigate multi-tiered Colombian slums like their own personal bouncy-house. Don't even try chasing them. You will be unsuccessful.
4. When embarking on a course of self-motivated assassination training, it's best to have a willing tutor. When adopted by a loving crime-uncle, Cataleya announces, "I WANT TO BE A KILLER. CAN YOU HELP?" To this request, her obliging tio (the hilariously weary, semi-hapless Cliff Curtis) shrugs, "Sure."
5. Lady Terminators are, if they so choose, also capable of giving both Harry Potter and all Project Runway contestants a run for their money by whipping together slinky club-slut bandage dresses that, in a pinch, can instantly transform into aerodynamic full-body unitards that also possess invisibility cloaking powers.
6. They picked the wrong Anne Hathaway to be Catwoman. The Anne Hathaway they should have picked is Zoe Saldana.
7. Idiot-movies that are audience-wooing enough to include hookers, sharks and pillow fights in the same scene are excellent idiot-movies.
8. If you're in a fight with a bad guy and you're caught weaponless, you can simply use toothbrushes as stab-accessories. If you have two toothbrushes at your disposal, all the better. In fact, "to toothbrush" someone is probably going to catch on as a verb thanks to this extremely satisfying film.
9. Corollary to Lesson #5: If the idiot-movie that contains "toothbrushing," hookers, sharks, pillow fights, unitard-wearing assassins and cheaply gotten supporting casts of international character actors struggling to sound American also happens to be directed by a guy whose last name is "Megaton," then you've given your ticket money to the right idiot-movie.