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Stars: Zoe Saldana, Jordi Molla, Lennie James, Amandla Stenberg, Michael Vartan, Cliff Curtis, Beto Benites, Jesse Borrego, Graham McTavish

Director: Olivier Megaton

Unfortunately for his intellectual credibility, Luc Besson rather blew it with cineastes when he abandoned subtitles for audience-friendly English-language movies like Transporter and its sequels, and Taken. But if cineastes now sneer, moviegoers boldly go where they have gone before to enjoy fast-moving visceral thrillers like this adrenaline-surging example co-scripted and produced by Besson and directed with vigour by the splendidly named Olivier Megaton.

The story line is simple and serviceable. Youngster Stenberg witnesses the murder of her parents ordered by gangster Benites in Bogota in 1992. She grows up – now played by Saldana – and becomes a deadly contract assassin (“I want to be a killer. Can you help?” she enquires of a mentor). But her real desire is to avenge the deaths of her parents… and, as Benites’ right-hand man Molla remarks with remarkable foresight, “In this life, smart girls always get what they want”.

Seekers of significant subtext may be disappointed. Megaton gets right down to business at the start as Stenberg escapes pursuing hoods across the roofs of Bogota, and maintains a brisk pace to deliver strong, suspenseful action hokum complete with a shark-infested pool that would not look out of place in a Bond thriller. Apropos 007, I found Saldana, with some 22 murders in four years to her credit easily his match in deadly dealings and considerably more pleasant to the eye. She makes Supergirl seem like a pacifist by comparison.

Vartan does what he can with his regulation role as Saldana’s lover but action, action and suspense, topped by an explosive climax, is what this shameless crowd-pleaser sets out to provide and it does. Art it is not. But, thankfully, it never pretends to be.

Alan Frank

USA/France 2011. UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distributors. Colour.
107 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 04 Sep 2011