Leave it to the French to make an existential, feminist action fantasy like La Femme Nikita. A young, sociopathic drug-addicted cop killer named Nikita (Anne Parillaud) gets a strange reprieve and, after a years-long make-over by a special section of the French government, emerges as a drop-dead-gorgeous undercover assassin. Making Thelma and Louise look like nuns, Nikita takes on Japanese gunmen, displays a lot of upper shank, picks up guys, and talks like a truck driver: It’s like The Terminator as reimagined by the editors of French Vogue.

Directed by Luc Besson in a style that constantly draws attention to itself, La Femme Nikita tackles one of the oldest subjects extant: being all alone in the world. Parillaud creates a character you can really care about, but the movie, otherwise a bright brute, goes soft at the edges. Nikita gets a bit too gooey with her significant other (Jean-Hugues Anglade) and can’t hack her work anymore, and then the fun stops. Still, while the bullets are flying, La Femme Nikita is fantastique. B+

La Femme Nikita
  • Movie
  • 115 minutes