Nikita (film)

For the 1990s television series, see La Femme Nikita. For the 2010 television series, see Nikita (TV series).
For other uses of "Nikita", see Nikita.

Original film poster
Directed by Luc Besson
Produced by
Written by Luc Besson
Music by Éric Serra
Cinematography Thierry Arbogast
Edited by Olivier Mauffroy
Distributed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release dates
  • February 21, 1990 (1990-02-21) (France)
  • August 17, 1990 (1990-08-17) (Italy)
Running time
117 minutes[1]
  • France
  • Italy
  • French
  • Italian
Budget $7.6 million
Box office $33.4 million[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]

The film stars Anne Parillaud as the title character, 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 intense 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 gradually 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 beautiful 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 and during their preparation to make love, the phone rings. She thinks it's the room service they just ordered, but it is instructions for her next job. She goes to the bathroom and as she prepares the rifle, Marco is attempting to talk to her though the door. The instructions on who to shoot take longer than expected and she can't answer him. She finally gets the instructions and takes out her target. She is barely able to conceal the rifle before Marco walks in, against her wishes. By then, she is distraught because she has ignored and hurt him due to her job.

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. When one of the operatives turns on him, Nikita is forced to take his place. They make it most of the way through the mission when it goes bad. The gate is closed and he takes on a bunch of guards before being fatally wounded, but drives them to safety before succumbing to his wounds. 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 goes to their apartment where he meets with Marco. Bob says she can't be out of danger because she still has the documents, after which Marco hands them over. 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 88%.[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

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 four 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]


Léon: The Professional is, to some extent, an expansion of the character "Victor", both Léon and Victor being played by Jean Réno. Besson described Léon as "Now maybe Jean is playing the American cousin of Victor. This time he's more human."

A Berts ytterligare betraktelser illustration shows a poster for the film, depicting Nikita holding a pistol while sitting next to a building, and the text "Nikita" appearing above, as Bert in mid-October accidentally drops Nadja into the floor at the cinema lobby room.[14]

See also


  1. "Nikita (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 6 July 1990. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  3. "La Femme Nikita". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-01-11.
  4. 1 2 "The Balcony Archive: La Femme Nikita" (Flash video). Ebert & Roeper. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
  5. 1 2 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
  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.
  14. Anders Jacobsson, Sören Olsson (1991). "Söndag 15 oktober". Berts ytterligare betraktelser (in Swedish). Illustrations by Sonja Härdin. p. 94.
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