La Femme Nikita (1990, Luc Besson)

All I’ve seen from Luc Besson since The Fifth Element has been trailers for The Messenger and Angel-A, so I’ve been thinking of him as this slick-ass hyper-stylist, forgetting the earlier action grit of The Professional. Well, this one takes The Professional, drops a load of dirt on its head and plants it firmly in the 80’s. So it’s got that pre-Reservoir Dogs, pre-CGI version of hyper-stylization, which from today’s perspective makes it hard to discern from its anonymously-directed peers like Predator or License to Kill.

Or maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention because I was busy being horrified by the lead character (Anne Parillaud, who somehow went on to be a Catherine Breillat regular), introduced as a strung-out nihilist who shoots a cop in the face. I wonder if the TV remake used that scene. The movie proceeds to stretch believability even more than Predator, as the government (personified in “Bob”: Tchéky Karyo of The Patriot, Wing Commander) gives her weapons and trains her to be a secret assassin. I thought it really came to life whenever Jean Reno was onscreen, but maybe I’m just a big Jean Reno fan.

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