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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Colombiana

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Two things to note about Cataleya, the central character in the over-the-top action flick "Colombiana" (TriStar/Stage 6): As a trained assassin, she's very good at killing people; as played by Zoe Saldana, she's even better at looking good while she does it.

Lest you miss the latter point, Cataleya conveniently dons a skintight black leotard to carry out one of her elaborate trademark hits.

What's a nice girl like her doing in the death-for-dollars racket? Well, way back in 1992, as early scenes show us, young Bogota-born Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) witnessed the fatal outcome of a tiff between her parents and her father's employer, a Colombian drug lord named Don Luis (Beto Benites).

Making her way to the States, the orphaned Cataleya found shelter with her gangster uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis), a thug with a heart of gold—if only for his kith and kin.

Already out for revenge against Don Luis and his chief minion Marco (Jordi Molla), the traumatized tot demanded that Tio Emilio immediately teach her how to introduce folks to the Big Sleep. With avuncular wisdom, however, he insisted that she graduate from grammar school first.

Flash forward to the current millennium and we find Cataleya executing contracts for Emilio while still pursuing her dreams of vengeance. But an FBI agent named Ross (Lennie James), though remarkably slow on the uptake, is at least lukewarm on her trail, while her heretofore anonymous romance with increasingly nosy artist Danny (Michael Vartan) also threatens to thwart her plans.

Pure pulp, director Olivier Megaton's shoot'em-up expends ammo at a "Scarface" pace, yet generally demurs from showing the gory consequences of its gun battles, or of its heroine's more creative rub-outs, such as that involving a shark tank.

Catholic viewers may be wryly amused by the fact that Emilio is portrayed as attending Sunday Mass on a regular basis, accompanied by his elderly mother (Ofelia Medina), who still wears a mantilla to church. Like many a mafia don on screen and—who knows?—perhaps off it as well, he seems not to have noticed that Gospel values and a life of violent crime are just a tad incongruous.

Maybe he missed that Sunday.

The film contains constant, largely bloodless, action violence, a vengeance theme, brief nongraphic premarital sexual activity, a few uses of profanity, at least one instance of rough language and frequent crude or crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Angela Merici: Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a “secular institute” of religious women. 
<p>As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood. </p><p>She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals. </p><p>She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost. </p><p>At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death.</p> American Catholic Blog I hear far more people discuss the presence of evil in their lives than they do the supreme power of grace. God is bigger than evil!

 
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