by Greg Muskewitz
Second directorial effort of French director Luc Besson, La Femme Nikita is the story of a street-punk named Nikita (Anne Parillaud, sometimes resembling Milla Jovovich, sometimes Jamie Lee Curtis) who kills a cop and is sent to prison for life.But the girl's got vim and is extremely aggressive, so she is instead secretly drafted to be trained as a government agent. A kind of hitman, or hitwoman, have you. She is manumitted back into public on her 23rd birthday (after three years in training) to be contacted when in need for a mission. The story is very conducive because it has a vicarious appeal to the audience --that whole ability to lead a double life. To your fiancée, you work as a nurse on call at any time, but when you are called into the mission, you are but a pawn to be moved; the maid who delivers the coffee with a microphone hidden in the handle, a tracker in the top of the sugar-shaker. But for as intriguing as the story grips you, like movies similar to this all too often succumb to, is the ability to keep it coming. There is an awesome early action scene when she hasn't learned that it is a training exercise, and even though her involvement the missions are not always of gigantic proportions, they are quite interesting regardless. Despite that, there are still several consequences and inadequacies that La Femme Nikita faces. From the startpoint, Nikita is a ruthless, cold-hearted murderess, and she physically injures any person she is given the opportunity to. We are never given any information as to an abusive or rough childhood aside from that fact that she hangs out with the wrong crowd or delinquents. Therefore, we are given no reason to like her. While that may be foremost on your brain for awhile, it does faint away, that is until the end when you are reminded of her dastardly nature. Second, when she is given the opportunity to direct a mission herself and take charge, when part of the stakeout goes wrong, the script is unclear as to why it went wrong, why the cleaner (Jean Reno) was called in, and why the guy freaked out when Reno was "cleaning?" From that point on, La Femme Nikita continues to lose validity for the fact that it loses any sense it was making. Suddenly she is in trouble for having pictures taken at the consulate, her involvement as the director, etc. There was no copula to help discern what went wrong and what was going on, and then when the fiancée tells her he knows of her real activities, and she takes off, again, it continues not to add up. Only to confuse. What reason did she flee? Why should we feel sorry for her? As far as the government and I was concerned, she was still paying off a debt to society. A life-long debt. Otherwise, she should have been in prison. Nikita gets no sympathy. The movie gets a little. With Jeanne Moreau.Final verdict: B-.
"Not at his best."
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originally posted: 02/02/01 11:19:27