Don’t you dare mistake this for the TV show, or the horrible John Badham remake starring Bridget Fonda. This is the film directed by the magnificent Luc Besson at the height of his indie powers. And one of his many films with kickass leading women - see also JOAN OF ARC, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, THE PROFESSIONAL.
Sentenced to life imprisonment, she manages to make a few court guards bleed before she is taken away. And it is enough for her to catch the eye of sub-government group who take in in with the intention of training her as a hit man. She is locked away, taught to fight, to flirt, to smile, to shoot, to win people over.
How this kind of heroine works is that for a bad girl, she is utterly likeable. She is sad, scared, asks for her mother. She cries at the drop of a hat. And for all that there is an underlying sweetness and vulnerability that makes her endearing.
Bob. Nikita’s mentor. Mysterious, handsome, always wearing a dark suit, debonair, accomplished, and the only one in the underground lair who sees potential in her. Who saves her from herself time and again as she lashes out at the establishment who have her imprisoned, and stubbornly refuses to play the part she’s been given. Who saves her from truly being dead when his bosses too think they’d all be better off with her that way.
And did I mention he is handsome? Very handsome. Edgy, European, Tcheky Karyo type handsome.
From the moment he walks into Nikita’s bare white room, we like him. We feel like he’s kind, understanding, on her side. Bringing her birthday cake on her birthday, watching her silently, amazedly from the sidelines as she bests her teachers again and again. While he gives her gifts of TVs and clothes and posters to make her feel more at home.
We know he’s never met anyone quite like her, with as much moxie, and passion, and vulnerability. We see it in his eyes. We love a man who loves our heroine.
Until we discover, bit by bit, that every nice thing he does turns out to have an ulterior motive. The hardest, the first time she is let out of the institute in four years, he takes her to dinner for her birthday. She is so excited, he is so mesmerised by how beautiful she has become, the moment is ripe for romance. His gift? A gun with a spare bullet clip so that she can perform her first hit.
She cries and so do I!!!
It is not a classic romance by any means. The hero and heroine are NEVER in a relationship. Their feelings for one another are NEVER verbally expressed or broadly hinted at. By half way through the film, once she leaves her training and heads out into the real world as agent "Josephine" she quickly becomes engaged to someone else (piccie to the right), and a lovely, sweet, darling someone else at that.
The love affair between bad girl come hit man Nikita and cool, mysterious cop Bob isn’t about words, it’s about actions. It’s about a minute lifting of the lips in a smile whenever he is in a room with her. It’s about the gleam in his eyes whenever he lays eyes on her. It’s about her reliance on him, her trust in him, the way she blooms under his guidance.
It’s a love affair lived beneath the surface. And it’s so very moving because of it.
But it is romantic, and tragic, and hopeful, and endearing, and loveable. And in the most heartbreaking moment in the film our hero and heroine do kiss . Just one kiss. After which she tells him "I will never kiss you again". Even writing it I tear up. Truly!
And add in the fantabulous Jean Reno as The Cleaner – the guy who tidies up after a botched job - and you have my vote!
Moody, and moving, and original, and wonderful. Warm and Fuzzy ratingrating: 10!
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