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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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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