Lic Besson’s sleek, sexy, action flick, La Femme Nikita, is all style and substance, symbolically represented by its beautiful and deadly title character.
Nikita (Anne Parillaud) is a teenaged nihilistic junkie murderess who, sentenced to life imprisonment, is offered a second chance if she can complete a top secret training session as an assassin for a mysterious French covert organization. Under the tutelage of Bob (Tcheky Karyo), Nikita transforms from a gum-chewing moppet into a woman of grace, charm and unerring kill reflexes.
Released into civilian life with the admonishment that she will be called into service at moment’s notice, Nikita takes an apartment, falls in love with an ambitious grocer (Jean-Hughes Anglade) and lives a reasonably normal life. And then she gets the call…
It’s a complex story, told simply but never simplistically, filled with balletic action sequences that rival John Woo at his most violently graceful. Besson’s thrilling action, stunning visuals and uncanny pacing helped redefine the action film in the Nineties. Perhaps even more interesting, however, is that La Femme Nikita’s herione is as lethal as any male action hero, but possesses the gamut of emotions, rich and complex and nary a glib retort.