A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this action movie from producer/writer Luc Besson (The Transporter, Taken) is rated PG-13, it's very violent and intense, revolving around the brutal murder of a 9-year-old girl's family and her subsequent dedication to revenge. There are lots of killings, and the main character kills without any punishment (except for the fact that she has lost all of her loved ones). There's no nudity, but the main character (played by popular Avatar actress Zoe Saldana) wears an array of tight/revealing outfits -- including a see-through tank top -- and there's lots of sexual suggestion. Language is infrequent but includes "f--k" and more than one use of "s--t." Bad guys drink cognac and smoke cigars from time to time.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
As a 9-year-old, Cataleya sees her mother and father killed by Colombian kingpins. She escapes to Chicago, where she's raised by her gangster uncle (Cliff Curtis). She grows up with a thirst for revenge and killing; she becomes a contract killer (played by Zoe Saldana) but carries out her own secret revenge on the side, leaving calling cards -- a drawing of an orchid -- in the hopes of reaching the big boss. Unfortunately, Special Agent Ross (Lennie James) is hot on her trail, and she has made the mistake of finding a part-time boyfriend in artist Danny Delanay (Michael Vartan). Can Cataleya complete her longtime goal before the trail of dead bodies becomes too much?
Is it any good?
Overall, the movie has enough clever chases, break-ins, and escapes -- not to mention a sweet, small tragic romance -- to make it worthwhile. But this isn't one of Besson's stronger efforts. It's by turns effective, silly, and sluggish, sometimes forgetting the usual slick, lightweight mood of Besson's best films. Colombiana has a great deal in common with Besson's films La Femme Nikita and The Professional, but it lacks the former's pathos and the latter's warmth.
Though producer/writer Luc Besson has endorsed a stable of good action directors over the years, Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3) is one of the most bombastic; his action is a little less slick and a little harder than that of his colleagues. Here Besson and Megaton have focused on a female character shaped by violence as a young girl who grows into an adult life of irredeemable killing and revenge.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. How is the violence portrayed in the scenes with the 9-year-old girl, as opposed to the scenes with the grown-up character?
What message does the movie send about revenge? Does it make you feel better to "get back" at someone who has wronged you? Is violent vengeance ever justified?
Is the main character a heroine? What makes her interesting?
- In theaters: August 26, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: December 20, 2011
- Cast: Cliff Curtis, Michael Vartan, Zoe Saldana
- Director: Olivier Megaton
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, disturbing images, intense sequences of action, sexuality and brief strong language
- Last updated: March 26, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love action and adventure
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch