Jun 29, 2024

Nikita (1990)

Director: Luc Besson
Producer: Luc Besson
Screenplay: Luc Besson

Anne Parillaud as Nikita
Jean-Hugues Anglade as Marco
Tchéky Karyo as Bob
Jeanne Moreau as Amande
Jean Reno as Victor "The Cleaner"

Music: Éric Serra
Cinematography: Thierry Arbogast
Editing: Olivier Mauffroy
Release Date: February 21, 1990 (France)
Running Time: 117 minutes
Language: French
Freddy's Movie Review

Initial Reactions to "La Femme Nikita"

I eagerly approached "La Femme Nikita," Luc Besson's fourth movie, riding high on the wave of the surprisingly enjoyable "The Big Blue." My friend Krasnaya, who is currently in Russia and too occupied to join in on the reviews, had spoken highly of it. However, despite the high expectations, I found myself initially unimpressed. Connecting with Nikita, the main protagonist, was challenging—especially given her violent introduction where she shoots a police officer in the face. The depiction of the police, heavily armed as though they stepped out of a bad action sci-fi film, seemed overly dramatic and strangely out of place. As Nikita, a troubled junkie granted a second chance, began her intense training at a secretive French spy agency, the soft, ill-fitting music by Éric Serra only heightened the disconnect, failing to match the gritty realism and rough nature of her transformation.

Character Development and Key Scenes

As the film progresses, Anne Parillaud's portrayal of Nikita does begin to win me over. Her growth into a compelling character is evident, especially during the action scenes where her stress feels palpable and genuine. The best moments unfold in a bathroom: first, the tense sniping scene that, despite its overly complicated setup, is executed with nerve-wracking style. The second standout moment involves Jean Reno as "The Cleaner," balancing horror and comedy brilliantly when he mistakenly uses acid on a man he thought was dead. Reno's brief appearance left me wishing he had more screen time. Interestingly, the roller-skater from "Subway" cleaned up his act, traded his wheels for grocery aisles, and became unexpectedly endearing. Watching a former petty thief fall for Nikita was the twist I needed to finally see her in a sympathetic light.

Reflections on Cinematography and Pacing

Despite its acclaim, I didn’t find the cinematography in "La Femme Nikita" as compelling or stylish as others suggest. The film also felt rushed, with Nikita's years of training and missions blending together without a clear sense of time passing—a few clichéd training montages set to music might have helped mark the time better. The ending came too abruptly, capped off by a credits song that could only be described as an auditory test of endurance. While the film is dedicated to Jean Bouise, who sadly passed away from lung cancer after making this his last film, it was bittersweet to see him one last time. Having gotten used to seeing him in the last three Besson films, his presence was a comforting constant I'll sorely miss. Ultimately, while I appreciated Anne Parillaud's performance, I didn’t resonate with the film as deeply as some. In all, while "La Femme Nikita" is a film of cultural significance, inspiring numerous adaptations, its execution doesn't quite live up to the hype, despite Anne Parillaud's compelling acting and a few memorable scenes. It's worth a watch, but perhaps with tempered expectations.

🎥 Cinematography (6/10):

Functional yet uninspiring.

📖 Story (6/10):

Engaging enough, but lacking depth in its hurried narrative.

🎬 Direction (6/10):

Besson's direction is competent but lacks the flair seen in his other works.

👥 Characters (6/10):

Driven by strong performances, especially Parillaud's transformation.

💥 Visual Effects (5/10):

Minimal and unobtrusive, serving the film without enhancing it.

🎭 Acting (8/10):

Parillaud shines, bringing complexity to Nikita's conflicted nature. We needed more Jean.

💬 Dialogue (6/10):

Sharp at times, yet overshadowed by the film's broader issues.

🌍 Setting/Atmosphere (6/10):

Varied and interesting locations, but the film fails to fully utilize them.

🎵 Music (4/10):

Serra's attempt at an emotionally resonant soundtrack turned out to be as gripping as a pair of socks on a tiled floor.

😄 Entertainment Value (5/10):

The film isn't exactly boring, and perhaps it's for the best that it wraps up quickly.

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