Une Femme De Puissance

La Femme Nikita (1990)
A Review By Ben Hunter
3½ Out Of 5 Stars


The power of a woman (une femme de puissance) is more than you thought!


Suffering colossal disengagement from society after an erroneous drug store robbery, Nikita (Anne Parillaud) is sentenced to prison for life.  Her incarcerators notice something within her however, and fake her death before her sentence initiates.  In complete dismay, Nikita enters an entirely new world of an undercover government agency.  After some initial resistance on her part, she trains to become an assassin, and is a very talented killer at that.  That is until everything runs amok. 

French filmmaker Luc Besson engages with one of his first feature films in Nikita or La Femme Nikita (French for “The Woman Nikita”), the first of two assassin films he would release, as well as Nikita spawning an Americanized version starring Bridget Fonda.  Apparently there was a love craze for femme fatal heroes in the early 90’s. 

With Nikita, I really liked how we progress with the character as she enters an entirely new world completely frightened.  I felt her fear; I was there with her in captivity and wanted what was best for her in every scary situation.  I never did quite get the affect of not having her speak until she was completely comfortable though.  In the beginning with the drug store robbery I would’ve liked to have seen a very talkative Nikita and a much more compelling event taking place here like the death of a loved one with whom she’s extremely close.  Thus shocking her into a state of paralyzed oblivion for the time being.  I could follow along, however.  But this stuck out to me. 

Even with that said it was still wonderful to see her progression through her training and pass her final test to become an assassin.  This is where Besson highlights her femininity, another part of her training with a female instructor.  I loved seeing Nikita learn how to properly carry herself as a woman and learn how to use her power as such within society.  This is something all women learn. It’s just in this case, that power also consists of guns and violence.  This is also where the dialogue of this world that Besson created really came to life for me.  While learning to be a properly sophisticated woman of poise and etiquette, the words spoken to Nikita to escort her into this dainty-like, soft presence of effeminate touch and grace engaged me ever so slightly, yet substantial.  Teaching her to smile and getting her to realize the power a woman has with her smile, knowing when to use it and such, all kept my attention at its highest peak.  I thoroughly enjoyed these moments of matriculation. 

I wanted more of that.  Instead, I was quite intrigued, but nowhere near the level of true gratification.  The ending didn’t help either.  It left me feeling uneasy and dissatisfied knowing that my hero that I just built up all this emotion of care for was now wasted, sort of a dishonorable way to get the audience invested in a sequel. 

But apparently I’m alone on this.  This is what Besson gets worshipped for with his career, especially when compared to other assassin films of this era.  Nikita has spawned a COUPLE of television series based on this as well as the Americanized Nikita.  So there’s definitely something to her!

La Femme Nikita
Thriller, 118 Minutes, R
Written & Directed by: Luc Besson
Cast: Anne Parillaud, Marc Duret, Patrick Fontana

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