I kind of believe that Besson, has become the modern equivalent of his fellow French director Jean-Pierre Melville, especially early in his career when Besson, like Melville aped American genre films. And sometimes made them a lot better than the Americans did.
Nikita was such a hit that the yanks remade it very poorly.
What’s good about this film? Well, with Besson you always get great visuals, and stunning action. Yes, the film is stylish and moves at a whip. But you also get some really nice character development for an action film, and for once (in 1990) the action star is a strong, rebellious, punk, woman.
Anne Parillaud is simply fantastic in the role of Nikita, strong, funny – full of life. But she also, later in the film shows genuine remorse, doubt and regret about where her life as lead her.
There are a number of standout scenes (I love the sequence with the martial arts teacher) but the standout sequence for me is Nikita’s first job as a hit woman, sprung of her by surprise during a meal in a nice restaurant. It’s a surprising and suspenseful scene, and a wonderful piece of action filmmaking.
This and Besson’s Subway – which I’ve blogged about before will make a great double bill for anyone wanting to get into early Besson.
Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on email@example.com or hire him on Peopleperhour