La Femme Nikita (1990)
Arguably the best thing Luc Besson’s ever done, and I’m a huge fan of The Professional.
La Femme Nikita is about a crazy French junkie who snuffs out a cop while her friends are robbing a pharmacy, so they throw the book at her and she subsequently gets locked up for life. But as fate may have it, the government decides to fake her death and spare her life so that they can fix her up, make her look all pretty and train her as their own personal assassin. Turns out that Nikita takes to professional killing like a fish to water, but she soon learns that trying to lead a normal life while moonlighting as a hitwoman isn’t exactly a breeze.
Tell me about it.
So, Luc Busson. The guy’s awesome. Really awesome. Hasn’t done anything worth noting in a while, but back in the good ol’ ’90s, he was no joke. That’s because Besson’s forte’ is in badass characters with heavy-duty firearms, taking a scene from normal to nutso at a moment’s notice and backing it all up with razor sharp writing to just make everyone and everything twice as cool as they already are. Not a lot of folks out there direct movies like Besson and Nikita is one awesome display of what he does best.
You know what, screw it, this thing just turned into a love letter.
You’re the man. Here’s what’s up…
I love the opening shot of Nikita and her junkie pals walking down the streets of France with techno-pop playing in the background. It sets the mood right away, the pharmacy job is a kickass scene and I am smitten with how gritty it is. What is it about the guns in low-budget action movies like this and The Terminator that made them sound so cool? You need to bring that back.
I love how damn cool it all is. The outfits, the action, the characters, the quiet strength of the dialogue – all of it comes together gorgeously and this sucker just oozes with style. This is a very meticulously made movie on every front and you sure have a keen eye for everything boss.
I love that Nikita is a woman. That is cool as sin, especially considering that Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor and Trinity are the only other seriously awesome action heroines I can think of off the top of my head. Anne Parillaud is great as Nikita, she handles a Desert Eagle like a pro and we need more women like her in movies. We’ve got tough guys to burn nowadays.
I love that Jean Reno has a role as a cleaner and that he looks just like Leon but acts even cooler. Jean Reno is the French badass and it’s a damn shame that more filmmakers out there haven’t come to this obvious realization. Everyone needs to quit casting Jude Law already and give this man some work!
I love the poster. Just look at that poster. I am going to buy that poster.
Man, I just love La Femme Nikita. That is all.
P.S.: I love you.”
Look, if you dig The Professional, you’ll dig this. The pacing might not be as tight and it’s severely lacking in the Gary Oldman department, but Nikita‘s got a better story that’s completely devoid of ambiguous pedophilia and it’s just a super cool, badass movie that still totally holds up two decades later. Sorry for all the Professional comparisons, but you bring up Luc Besson and the first thing people think is either The Professional or “Who’s Luc Besson?”
Eh, such is life.
And DO NOT SEE the shot-for-shot American remake, Point of No Return. It fucking sucks.