Nikita (film)

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For the 1990s television series, see La Femme Nikita. For the 2010 television series, see Nikita (TV series).
Nikita france.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by Luc Besson
Produced by Patrice Ledoux
Luc Besson
Claude Besson
Vittorio Cecchi Gori
Mario Cecchi Gori
Written by Luc Besson
Starring Anne Parillaud
Jean-Hugues Anglade
Jean Reno
Tchéky Karyo
Music by Éric Serra
Cinematography Thierry Arbogast
Edited by Olivier Mauffroy
Gaumont Film Company
Les Films Du Loup
Cecchi Gori Group Tiger Cinematografica
Distributed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company
(USA & Canada)
Touchstone Pictures
Release dates
  • February 21, 1990 (1990-02-21) (France)
  • August 17, 1990 (1990-08-17) (Italy)
Running time
117 minutes[1]
Country France
Language French
Budget 50 million FF
Box office US$5,017,971 (US)[2]

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.[3][4][5]

Nikita (Anne Parillaud) is a teen who robs a pharmacy and murders a policeman. She is sentenced to life in prison, where her captors fake her death, and she is given the choice of becoming an assassin, or being killed. After training, she becomes a talented killer. Her career as an assassin goes well until a mission in an embassy goes awry.


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 accomplices 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) tells her that, although officially dead and buried, she is in the custody of a shadowy government agency known as "the Centre" (possibly part of the DGSE). She is given the choice of becoming an assassin, or of actually occupying "row 8, plot 30", her fake grave.[6] After some resistance, she chooses the former and proves to be a talented killer. She is taught computer skills, martial arts, and firearms. 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 Centre.

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 (under the name Marie). She meets Marco (Jean-Hugues Anglade) in a supermarket, and he becomes her boyfriend, knowing nothing of her real profession. Marco is curious about her past and why she has no family or other friends. Nikita then invites Bob to dinner as "Uncle Bob." Bob tells stories about "Marie"'s imaginary childhood, and gives the couple tickets for a trip to Venice as an engagement gift.

Nikita and Marco go on the trip, but her happiness is shattered when she receives a call in the hotel room, ordering her to carry out a mission there with a sniper rifle concealed in the bathroom. From the bathroom window, she kills a woman, and this leaves her distraught.

Still, her career as an assassin goes well until a document-theft mission in an embassy goes awry. The Centre sends in Victor "The Cleaner" (Jean Reno), a ruthless operative, to salvage the mission and destroy all the evidence of the foul-up. 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 Centre, Bob meets with Marco, and they discuss what will happen to her. They agree that they will both miss her.


Anne Parillaud stars as Nikita, a young female assassin


Nikita received mixed reviews by critics both in France[7] and abroad.[8] On Metacritic, the overall rating by the critics is 56%.[9] However, on Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 87%.[10] A number of critics, including Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, positively reviewed the film.[4][5]

The film was a box office hit in France getting 3,787,845 admissions becoming the 8th highest grossing film of the year in France.[11][12]



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.

TV series[edit]

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.

In 2010, the CW network picked up a new series, Nikita, with Maggie Q as a Nikita who has gone rogue.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NIKITA (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 1990-07-06. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  2. ^ Nikita at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "La Femme Nikita". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  4. ^ a b "The Balcony Archive: La Femme Nikita" (Flash video). Ebert & Roeper. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  5. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (3 April 1991). "Reviews: La Femme Nikita". Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  6. ^ as per the original French version/English subtitles
  7. ^ "Luc Besson, le mal aimé". aVoir-aLire. 11 July 2007. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  8. ^ "Movie Review: 'Nikita': A Thriller With a Feminine Twist". The Los Angeles Times. 15 March 1991. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  9. ^ Nikita at Metacritic
  10. ^ Nikita at Rotten Tomatoes
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Three-day Weekend Box Office: 'Lambs' Is Still Roaring". The Los Angeles Times. 19 March 1991. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  13. ^ "The CW Announces its New Fall 2010 Season". May 20, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 

External links[edit]