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La Femme Nikita (1990)

Nikita (original title)
R | | Action, Thriller | April 1991 (USA)
Trailer
2:30 | Trailer
Convicted felon Nikita, instead of going to jail, is given a new identity and trained, stylishly, as a top secret spy/assassin.

Director:

Luc Besson

Writer:

Luc Besson
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Popularity
3,089 ( 159)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 6 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anne Parillaud ... Nikita / Marie Clément
Marc Duret ... Rico
Patrick Fontana Patrick Fontana ... Coyotte
Alain Lathière Alain Lathière ... Zap
Laura Chéron Laura Chéron ... La punk
Jacques Boudet Jacques Boudet ... Le pharmacien
Helene Aligier Helene Aligier ... La pharmacienne
Pierre-Alain de Garrigues Pierre-Alain de Garrigues ... Flic pharmacie
Patrick Pérez Patrick Pérez ... Flic pharmacie (as Patrick Perez)
Bruno Randon Bruno Randon ... Flic pharmacie
Vincent Skimenti Vincent Skimenti ... Flic pharmacie
Roland Blanche Roland Blanche ... Flic interrogatoire
Joseph Teruel Joseph Teruel ... Stagiaire flic
Jacques Disses Jacques Disses ... Avocat
Stéphane Fey Stéphane Fey ... Président tribunal (as Stephane Fey)
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Storyline

An urgent life-or-death dilemma befalls Nikita--the feral street girl and violent drug addict--after killing a police officer at point blank. Hopeless, Nikita is given a new lease of life, when she reluctantly exchanges her doomed fate for a secret government program that promises to mould her into a cold-blooded assassin under the wing of her sadistic mentor, Bob. Now--with a new set of skills, a new identity, and lethally sophisticated looks--Nikita is the ultimate weapon and the perfect puppet for doing the government's dirty work; however, what happens if this trained killer chooses love over death? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She has no fear, she is sweet, she loves, and she kills. See more »

Genres:

Action | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French | Italian | English

Release Date:

April 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La Femme Nikita See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

FRF50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$44,047, 10 March 1991

Gross USA:

$5,017,971

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,017,971
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The odd looking gun that Nikita uses in Venice is a silenced Steyr AUG, an Austrian made assault rifle. See more »

Goofs

Embassy guards wore Hungarian police uniform however the guy in the staircase spoke some Slavic language. (He said "Dobry vecher!" [Good evening] to Nikita.) See more »

Quotes

Nikita: Why ain't my mother here?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The English dubbed version featured John Tremaine as the voice of Tchéky Karyo's character Bob. See more »

Connections

Referenced in BitterSweet (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

The Dark Side of Time
(uncredited)
Performed by Éric Serra
Words by Luc Besson
Backing vocals by Yvonne Jones & Slim Batteux
See more »

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User Reviews

 
plenty of verve and style, and a (rightfully) perennial favorite of French spy thrillers
31 January 2008 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

Luc Besson was on a hot streak in the late 80s/early 90s, and La Femme Nikita (or just Nikita for short) is almost as good as he got at putting his own distinctive stamp on a genre that many auteurs have trouble molding. The spy thriller is great for blockbuster audiences, but to make it into a strong romantic drama is always tricky, as there's the chance for too much one-dimensional theatrics or more attention paid to the plot convolutions than actual human emotions. Nikita squares this problem away just with the protagonist: a young punk (Anne Parillaud, in her most recognizable, near star-making performance) who kills a cop in the midst of a shoot-out is sentenced to life, but then sort of resurrected following the lead of a member of a covert spy organization, and given an ultimatum: become a spy/assassin, or die. She complies, and in a few years time turns into Josephine, who gets orders on the outside from time to time to do tasks like dress up in a maid's outfit to serve potential targets, or to ready herself to kill someone long-range at a moment's notice.

Besson crafts his main story by creating a sort of love triangle between Nikita/Josephine/Marie, her boss Bob, and her conventional lover Marco, a grocery store cashier who doesn't know what she really does. Besson tools with the elements for a much more conventional thriller, and from time to time it could appear like La Femme Nikita will veer into that realm and not return. But Besson is smart; he crafts the first hour like a kind of 'Taming of the Shrew' saga (or 'Taming of a Shrill Bad-ass'), filled with juicy, dark humor ranging from the ultra-violent (pencil in the hand anyone?) to the silly and playful (training with karate instructors). And as pure director of action sequences Besson shows himself as one of the more distinct masters; it's succinctly fresh and tense while holding the ingredients for what mainstream audiences crave, chiefly in that centerpiece as she is told to kill someone on the night of a seemingly hot date with Bob. Even in the little things, like the scene where she watches the spy put together the concoction for the target in the hotel, works on the purest technical terms.

But La Femme Nikita, for the most part, also works on emotional levels too. Besson won't be above throwing in a hard-boiled killer in the midst (Jean Reno's Victor, my favorite supporting character if only for a few pivotal scenes, and a precursor to Leon), but he'll also subvert it just a tinge for good measure. I loved seeing when Josephine has to take out the woman in Venice, her shot in sight, and is moved to tears through the words that Marco speaks to her, truthfully, not in any terms that deem him as the boring "safe" character, but as her kind of salvation from a life that she's been forced into as a final alternative. As happens often in Besson's work, in fact, the female character is put into a realm of personal chaos that is created by or leads to murder and, at the least, harrowing times with the one she cares for or about (i.e. Portman in Leon, Leeloo in Fifth Element, Joan of Arc, even Angela in Angel-A). It's not simply a gimmick in having the character be a woman- it's essential to Besson's track as a filmmaker, and Praillaud is excellent for the sort of ups and downs the character goes through, sometimes in the same scene!

This isn't to say there are a few minor liabilities, if only from my perspective: the music is usually effective in that early electronic-techno beat style for a modern thriller, yet sometimes it's also a cross between a soft-core porn and Weather channel muzak; the ending felt abrupt, or at least on a first viewing (albeit it's hard to top the scene at the ambassador's HQ); and, as a minor criticism, what happened to showing how Nikita learns how to smile? (Seems a little crucial as something of her personality that's skipped over, when made to seem like a big stepping stone by Jeanne Moreau's enigmatic character.) Otherwise, a must-see, and one of Besson's best films.


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