La Femme Nikita (film)

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Nikita france.jpg
original film poster
Directed byLuc Besson
Produced byPatrice Ledoux (uncredited)
Written byLuc Besson
StarringAnne Parillaud
Jean-Hugues Anglade
Tchéky Karyo
Music byÉric Serra
Distributed byGaumont
Release date
February 21, 1990 (1990-02-21) (France)
Running time
115 min.

Nikita (re-titled La Femme Nikita in some countries) is a 1990 French action film written and directed by Luc Besson.


Nikita Taylor (Anne Parillaud) is a teen-aged delinquent and heroin addict who participates in robbing the pharmacy of the parents of a fellow junkie. The robbery goes awry, degenerating to a gunfight with local police during which her cohorts are killed. Suffering severe withdrawal symptoms, she shoots a policeman. Nikita is arrested, tried, convicted of murder, and imprisoned for life, with parole considered after thirty years.

In prison, she is drugged to simulate a death sentence; she awakens in a nondescript room. A well-dressed, hard man (Tchéky Karyo) enters and reveals that, although officially dead and buried after suicide by overdose, she is in custody of the DGSE, the French intelligence agency. She is given a choice: work as a DGSE assassin or be killed. After some resistance, she chooses the former and proves to be a talented killer. One of her trainers, Amande (Jeanne Moreau), transforms her from grimy gutter trash to femme fatale; Amande was also rescued and recruited by the DGSE.

Her initiation mission, killing a diplomat in a crowded restaurant and escaping back to the Centre, is the film's highlight; she is graduated and begins life as a sleeper agent in Paris with her boyfriend (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a man she meets in a supermarket and who knows nothing of her real profession.

Her assassin's career continues well, until an embassy document-theft goes awry, requiring the ruthless participation of 'Victor: The Cleaner' (Jean Reno) in destroying the mission's evidence and all corpses; The Cleaner is wounded and dies; Nikita abandons the Agency, the city of Paris, and her supermarket cashier boyfriend.

Critical and public reception

Like most of Besson's films, Nikita received relatively poor reviews by critics both in France[1] and abroad. However, it has been acclaimed worldwide by the general public. This trend can be seen for example on Metacritic where the overall rating by the critics is 56% and the one by the users is 77%[2]

However, a number of critics, including Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, positively reviewed the film.[3][4] Critics and viewers noted Luc Besson's Gallic inversion of Hollywood and Hong Kong action film conventions, emphasizing the killer's humanity.


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

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 sizeable 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.


  1. ^ "Luc Besson, le mal aimé, aVoir-aLire". Retrieved 2009-02-06.
  2. ^ "La Femme Nikita, on Metacritics". Retrieved 2009-02-06.
  3. ^ "The Balcony Archive: La Femme Nikita" (flash video). Ebert & Roeper. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (1991-04-03). "Reviews: La Femme Nikita". Retrieved 2007-12-07.

See also

External links