Nikita, also called La Femme Nikita (French pronunciation: [la fam nikita], "The Woman Nikita"), is a 1990 Franco-Italian action thriller film written and directed by Luc Besson. The film centers around a young female criminal who is recruited to work as an assassin for the French government.
Nikita (Anne Parillaud) is a teenage junkie who participates in the robbery of a pharmacy owned by a friend's parents. The robbery goes awry, erupting into a gunfight with local police, during which her cohorts are killed. Suffering severe withdrawal symptoms, she murders a policeman. Nikita is arrested, tried, and convicted of murder and is sentenced to life in prison.
In prison, her captors fake her death, making it appear that she has committed suicide via a tranquilizer overdose. She awakens in a nondescript room, where a well-dressed but hard-looking man named Bob (Tchéky Karyo) enters and reveals that, although officially dead and buried, she is in the custody of a shadowy government agency known as the Centre. She is given the choice of becoming an assassin, or of actually occupying "row 8, plot 30", referring to her fake grave. After some resistance, she chooses the former and proves to be a talented killer. One of her trainers, Amande (Jeanne Moreau), transforms her from a degenerate drug addict to a femme fatale. Amande implies that she was also rescued and trained by the DGSE.
Her initial mission, killing a foreign diplomat in a crowded restaurant and escaping back to the Centre from his well-armed bodyguards, doubles as the final test in her training. She graduates and begins life as a sleeper agent in Paris with her boyfriend Marco (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a man she meets in a supermarket and who knows nothing of her real profession. Marco is curious about her past and why she never has any friends or family members. Nikita then invites Bob to dinner as "Uncle Bob," and he gives the couple tickets to Venice as an engagement gift.
Nikita (under the name Marie) goes on vacation with Marco, but her happiness is shattered when she receives a call giving details about her next mission. From her bathroom, she kills a woman outside, and this leaves her distraught.
Her career as an assassin goes well until a document-theft mission in an embassy goes awry, requiring the Centre to send in Victor "The Cleaner" (Jean Reno), a ruthless assassin. Victor's task is to help Nikita salvage the mission and destroy all the evidence of the foul-up, but he is wounded by the embassy guards and dies during the escape. Marco reveals that he has discovered Nikita's secret life, and, concerned over how her activities are affecting her psychologically, persuades her to disappear. Upon discovering that she abandoned the agency, Bob meets with Marco, and they discuss what will happen to her. They agree that they will both miss her.
- Jean-Hugues Anglade as Marco
- Tchéky Karyo as Bob
- Jeanne Moreau as Amande
- Jean Reno as Victor "The Cleaner"
Nikita received mixed reviews by critics both in France and abroad. On Metacritic, the overall rating by the critics is 56%. However, on Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 87%.A number of critics, including Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, positively reviewed the film.
Main article: Point of No Return (1993 film)
In 1993, Warner Bros. remade Nikita in English as Point of No Return (The Assassin), directed by John Badham and starring Bridget Fonda. Nikita also inspired the 1991 Hong Kong action film Black Cat, which closely follows the original film’s storyline.
A TV series based on the film, titled La Femme Nikita, was created in 1997. It was produced in Canada by Warner Bros. and Fireworks Entertainment. The series ran for five seasons on USA Network, and generated a sizable cult following of its own. It was created by Joel Surnow, who later co-created 24 with fellow La Femme Nikita executive consultant Robert Cochran. It starred Peta Wilson as Nikita and Roy Dupuis.