La femme Nikita

La Femme Nikita

La femme Nikita
Made in: France
Language: French
Directed by: Luc Besson
Starring: Anne Parillaud, Tcheky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno
Year: 1990

Synopsis: A strung-out junkie named Nikita (Anne Parillaud) looks on as her loser friends get gunned down by police during a botched drug store robbery. When she kills two officers herself, the crazed protagonist is arrested and sentenced. While in prison, government agents fake her execution and sequester her away in a secret underground facility.

While there, the intelligent but violently unstable Nikita meets Bob (Tcheky Karyo), who cleans her up and trains her (against her will) to be a highly skilled secret agent. After five years of living in the facility, Bob and his protegé eventually bond, and she is finally released.

Living under a new identity, she is to spend the rest of her a sexy, covert assassin waiting to be called upon at any time.

But once on her own, she meets Marco (Jean Hugues Anglade), a friendly sales clerk working at the local grocery store. They fall in love, but can a relationship work out when one person is often called upon to secretly go out and kill random enemies of the French government?

Remarks: One of the first things you'll notice is that this film is not a straightforward, nonstop action thriller. Although the pacing is quite slow, it isn't boring. Luc Besson seems to be very thoughtful about crafting his characters, which justifies the pace and makes the higher energy scenes more exciting as a result.

Many of the action scenes are boldly executed, and one of the the best parts about this film is that the protagonist's missions are unpredictable and creatively conceived.

Psychologically, the movie is quite fascinating when we see the stark contrast between the life Nikita wants vs the life she must keep secret. Anne Parillaud convincingly pulls off the role of both a ruthless killer and gentle human, which is crucial in making the film work.

The interesting screenplay, story development, and the way in which Luc Besson sets up important scenes or lines of dialog can be interpreted a number of ways.

You can enjoy the movie as is, or look upon it as a possible commentary on topics such as feminism, sexism, the government, and social issues, to name a few. It'll definitely give you a lot to think about.

The Bad: Mainly, I had a problem with some minor matters of logic. It's just a bit of stretch to believe that Nikita can keep her life as an assassin completely hidden from Marco for such a long time. And the final action scene seems sloppy in comparison to the well-crafted build-up.

Although that scene reveals important stuff that leads to the film's ending, I think it should have been more subtle rather than an all-out climactic shootout.

Who would like this movie: Experienced watchers of foreign films will find plenty to discuss, and some parts will definitely hold the interest of mainstream action fans. But overall, you'll enjoy this French movie most if you're a bit more inclined to appreciate artistry over pure commercial entertainment.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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