La Femme Nikita (1990)

La Femme Nikita (1990)

Luc Besson crafts one of film’s most iconic femme fatales in this stylish spy thriller

7.3

Movie

France, Italy
English, French, Italian
Action, Thriller
1990
LUC BESSON
Alexis Dupuy, Anne Parillaud, Bruno Randon
117 min

TLDR

It’s a little bit funny how Besson made a movie so iconic, that twenty years later, he ends up actually copying himself.

What it's about

After being sentenced to life, teenage felon Nikita is granted a new opportunity when the government fakes her death and offers to train her to become a professional assassin.

The take

Before assassin protege Mathilda in Léon the Professional, humanoid Leeloo in The Fifth Element, and superpowered drug mule Lucy in her titular film, Luc Besson first discovered his love for the badass female assassin in La Femme Nikita. Scored by European synth and shot with cinematography that still looks fresh today, the action thriller delivers pure adrenaline– the guns, the kills, and the drama of the hidden life– but the stylish spy film transcends the genre through the Pygmalion-esque transformation of Nikita’s femininity, a faux identity forged and crafted in the service of the government machine, yet both attracts the idea of and clashes with the want for genuine freedom and a good, normal life. It’s because of these existential ideas that La Femme Nikita became one of the most iconic femme fatales of the 20th century.

What stands out

Nikita arguably wouldn’t feel so captivating if it wasn’t for Anne Parillaud. Her transformation from nihilistic teen to capable woman is aptly captured through movement and physicality, and she just has the charisma that keeps your eyes (and the camera) on her.

Comments

For a split second, I thought it was Cobie Smulders! https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1130627/?ref_=tt_ov_st

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