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La Femme Nikita Movie Review

besson luc return badham

For the record, Anne Parillaud IS La Femme Nikita in a well-made, solidly constructed French thriller that also features the legendary Jeanne Moreau. So leave it to Hollywood to co-opt, distort, and screw up a huge international hit. Question: What is the difference between the 1990 indie La Femme Nikita and the 1993 Warner Bros. release Point of No Return? Answer: Point of No Return is in English. I'm trying to imagine the extent of director John Badham's professional pride, although I suppose at his shameless level it must be easy to face himself in the mirror since he was paid a whopping salary for plagiarizing Luc Besson's directing style. I'm not kidding; Point of No Return not only has the same directorial slant and dialogue PLUS near-identical reconstruction of all the original sequences, but it ALSO has the same damn camera angles on many of the shots. After all the time that John Ritter and the late Michael Landon spent shoving the “Where there's a will, there's an A” philosophy down everyone's throats, you'd think there'd be a better way to spend zillions of dollars than redoing French movies because Americans can't read subtitles. The whole point of the re-make seems to be that if a dame puts on a little lipstick and fluffs up her hair, she has most of what she needs as the ideal professional assassin. But of course, all those cosmetics also supply her with a conscience, so U.S. audiences are treated to dilemmas on the order of “Oh gee whiz, should I shoot that guy or go to bed with my boyfriend?” Apparently 1993 audiences were expected to respond in droves to that burning ethical quandary, because Warner Bros. wanted Point of No Return to be an even huger international hit than the superior French flick. Bridget Fonda, Gabriel Byrne, Dermot Mulroney, Miguel Ferrer, and Anne Bancroft round out the cast of Badham's overproduced photocopy. There are SOME differences between La Femme Nikita and the re-make. You see, Nikita and her boyfriend went to Venice on holiday, while Fonda and Mulroney went to New Orleans; and the fistfights and gunshots sounded real in the original, while Hollywood SFX cranked them up to drown out nuclear explosions; and Fonda listened to Nina Simone and Nikita didn't and…on Monday, January 13, 1997, La Femme Nikita (with 26-year-old Australian Peta Wilson making her television debut) became a weekly series on the USA cable network. On the small screen, in a fundamental corruption of Luc Besson's enigmatic character, Nikita was not a killer, but a wronged woman, and an innocent! The original Nikita created by Besson was AMORAL to the core; in John Badham's photocopy, her amorality is muted. In the USA variation, it's nonexistent. See The Third Man for the sweetening of Harry Lime, transformed from a big-screen bad guy to a small-screen hero!

1991 (R) 117m/C FR Anne Parillaud, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Tcheky Karyo, Jeanne Moreau, Jean Reno, Jean Bouise; D: Luc Besson; W: Luc Besson; C: Thierry Arbogast; M: Eric Serra. Cesar Awards ‘91: Best Actress (Parillaud). VHS

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