A violent street girl down on her luck and facing imprisonment is given the chance to start a new life - as a trained assassin.
The film that brought snazzy French director Luc Besson to prominence, and for some ruined his career as he began to get the idea he was some kind of Eurocratic blockbuster maker (although he did still have Leon to come). Not that that means Nikita is all that bad, it’s like a movie made out of marble, ultra-slick and disco-lit, with big boom explosions and wild flourishes of action — neatly set off by having its punkette James Bond figure dash about in stilettos.
Sensuality was always Besson’s thing, he loves surfaces, the ergonomic fit of his images into some cool holding pattern of an idea — here the espionage thriller done as rehabilitation. Anne Parillaud (the ex-Mrs. Besson) is her own marble surface, skinny, beautiful and impenetrable. Her transformation from hoodlum into assassin, is like My Fair Lady with high explosives and no songs. Tcheky Karyo, with his gouged Euro-looks, is the Henry Higgins figure who must transform her into a government puppet. Quelling her anger, or, better, redirecting it.
Beyond that, there is little more. It has an arch-dynamism to match the neon chic of its looks, but no depth. Besson chooses close fitting suits, incendiary attitude and perfectly lit cheekbones, over any psychology, even pop psychology.
A brutish tour de force from Luc Besson at the height of his powers.