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dir Olivier Megaton
scr Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
prd Luc Besson, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam
with Zoe Saldana, Jordi Molla, Lennie James, Michael Vartan, Cliff Curtis, Amandla Stenberg, Beto Benites, Callum Blue, Ofelia Medina, Jesse Borrego, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Billy Slaughter
release US 26.Aug.11, UK 9.Sep.11
11/US Europa 1h48
Mission: Improbable. Saldana
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
This preposterously overwrought revenge thriller is entertaining simply because it so rarely pauses for breath. It makes virtually no sense if you think about it, and the writing and direction are mostly incoherent. But it's also guilty good fun.
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.
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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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