Sep 11, 2010
The spy season began in earnest this week with the series premiere of The CW’s newest version of La Femme Nikita, simply titled Nikita. Nikita is the opening salvo in a fall television season as rife with secret agents as any since the Sixties. The character of Nikita began life in Luc Besson’s 1990 French film Nikita, released in America as La Femme Nikita and starring Anne Parillaud in the title role. It was a great movie, but hardly the most original premise. It’s basically Remo Williams meets My Fair Lady (with perhaps a dash of Callan thrown in for good measure*): a punk street kid is arrested for murder after a drug-related robbery gone wrong, her execution is faked, and instead she’s pressed into service for a top secret government agency, given no choice but to become a highly trained assassin. That’s not all she’s trained in, though. Her handler proves to be a closet Henry Higgins, and she’s trained to be a proper lady as well. The character showed a remarkable shelf life that no one could have guessed at back then, sustaining an unsanctioned 1991 Hong Kong remake, Black Cat (which also spawned a sequel), a 1993 American remake, Point of No Return (starring Bridget Fonda), a Canadian TV series (called La Femme Nikita again) that ran on the USA cable network from 1997-2001, starring Peta Wilson, and now another, unrelated TV version.
“I broke their most important rule.”
“What rule was that?”
You guessed it...
“I fell in love.”
Or, in a flashback with her dead fiancé:
“Promise me one thing.”
“Promise me this isn’t a dream that I’ll wake up from.”
Yeah, dialogue isn’t its strong suit, but the new Nikita pilot certainly has its moments. The opening kill (with Nikita in a red bathing suit) is spectacular, and sure to hook viewers in, and there’s a great scene where Nikita (pushing a room service cart loaded with the tasered body of a guy she wants to question) comes face to face with Division’s nastiest cleaner in a hotel hallway, and their standoff is interrupted by a family walking between them. Another standout moment finds Nikita, while all of Division hunts for her, walking right up to former boss Berkeley at a fancy Washington DC shindig and threatening to hit him where it hurts the most. “My feelings?” he asks, sarcastically. “No,” she replies, “your funding.”
*An influence that came full circle when Edward Woodward guest-starred in a recurring role on the final season of the USA TV series.