Colombiana hits UK shores in the wake of its US counterpart in a Region B-locked Blu-ray that provides a very good 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Stylistically, the film is not unlike most of the other EuropaCorp productions, offering up a heavily over-saturated vision of the world that is often dominated by sun-bleached gold, yellow and brown – normally determined by the location. Detail is very good throughout, allowing us to lap up every inch of detail on Saldana’s often scantily-clad body, almost every pore on her face, and distinguish the very hairs on her head, with no signs of edge enhancement, no drifting into softness, and no extreme DNR usage. Defects and damage are non-existent – as you would only expect from such a modern, glossy production – and it’s generally an impressive image. The colour scheme, as noted already, often favours the more oversaturated Tony Scott school of cinematography, with Colombia having a distinctly sun-drenched look of exaggerated yellows, which are nicely juxtaposed with some of the cool-blue dominated stealth scenes in the middle of the film – the beautiful clear blue of the swimming pool making for an excellent centre-piece. Blacks are strong and allow for solid shadowing and the fine sheen of grain that pervades the piece gives it that suitably filmic look. 3D pop is also evident in a couple of scenes, although perhaps not as much as one might have liked, but overall this is still a very strong, demo quality video presentation.
On the aural front the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also delivers the goods, particularly in respect of the more action-driven elements of the film. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout the piece, given enough room to breathe over the frontal array wherever appropriate, but the dialogue really isn’t all that important an element in the proceedings, which are dominated instead by bombastic effects sequences and a totally forgettable but perfectly suitable score that adds further bass-driven weight to the production. The surrounds get a fair workout from both of these elements, and the rears frequently pick up on some of the smaller atmospheric touches, with the LFE channel making the most of the explosions, RPG shots and often thundering gunfire, whilst also humming along in the background to accompany the score. It’s not quite as dynamic and engulfing as some of the better-designed soundtracks, often crafted for unquestionably better movies, but it is still, just about, a demo quality affair that is a little bit more precise than the usual blunt force trauma offering that accompanies this kind of b-movie actioner.
On the extras front, whilst we don’t get the Unrated version of the film (which I will be reviewing later this month), we do get a couple of nice extras, one of which is exclusive to this release:
This track, which, as far as I know, is not on the US release (I suspect because it would not work on the longer Unrated cut), contains a great deal of informative background information. Director Olivier Megaton talks about the inspiration for the movie (the premise came from ideas Besson had about a sequel to Leon), working with Besson, and what they wanted to create: an emotional, dramatic movie. He talks about the shooting locations, how the production went, and relays some anecdotes whilst the picture-in-picture frame offers up clips alternating between the man himself, the original sketches for the shots, and behind the scenes footage of the scenes being filmed, although you do occasionally wonder whether he is being a little delirious about what kind of ‘emotional, dramatic classic’ he thought that he was working on.
This 25-minute Featurette chronologically follows the story, taking us through a number of different stunts and on-set occurrences, whilst deconstructing the image using split screen effects work and effects. There’s lots of behind the scenes footage, narrated using far too much plot and character exposition – things you would know from watching the film. It’s nice to hear from the cast – including Zoe Saldana herself – as well as see some of her stunts being performed but actually the most interesting part of this offering is the comparison between the footage shot and the final product, most notably in the colour tones: realistic video footage in normal lighting conditions is often turned into golden hued super-saturated imagery.
The disc is rounded off by the original Trailer.
EuropaCorp, French action-thriller director-turned-writer/producer Luc Besson’s mini-Studio, was set up with the sole intention of delivering movies like The Transporter, Taken and From Paris with Love – solid, stylish, entertaining b-movie actioners that seldom stand out as exceptional but also seldom disappoint action fans. Colombiana, however, looks to be the exception to the rule, odd perhaps when you consider that this started off as arguably Besson’s dream project: a sequel to his best movie, Leon. Unfortunately, the loose connections soon fall by the wayside, the movie drifting too far into the realms of implausibility (and even impossibility), failing to establish any kind of coherent plot, and ending up as little more than an extended montage of many of the key scenes from Besson’s 50+ film history. Each one of these ideas has been realised better before, and, as a result, Colombiana feels like a lacklustre rip-off, little more than an ineffective greatest hits compilation, complete with a new cast who find it understandably hard to flesh out their wafer-thin characters. I expected more from Besson – not a great deal more, as I’m normally quite content with his Transporter-like outings, but more than this (and certainly more from a once-sequel to Leon), and I also expected more from Saldana, who tries her best with the material on offer, and does ok in the action department, but still feels like she is taking a step back, rather than a step towards being a more bankable lead.
On Region B UK Blu-ray, although we get great video and audio, we are left with a different, arguably inferior cut to the US equivalent release (that I will be reviewing shortly) which boasts an unrated, extended version complete with more action and violence. I wouldn’t mind, but for that fact that several of the key deaths occur off-screen, something which sticks out even when you haven’t seen the longer version (that shows the deaths). If you’re a fan of the movie, I’d recommend looking into the longer cut (although the UK release does have an exclusive Picture-in-Picture track). If you’re an action-fan then this is still probably worth a rental, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that it’s as reliable as the rest of Besson’s writer/producer efforts, and it’s certainly not even worth regarding as a sequel to Leon. This one really does require low expectations and a high tolerance for extreme silliness.
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