Before Jackie’s movie, she asked for a short, and seeing as she’s Canadian and all I figured I’d go with Kids in the Hall. Oh wait, I almost always go with Kids in the Hall. Anyway, this time the skit is called “Good Grandpa” and it’s about Grandpa’s last poo. Where else do you get topics like that? Here it is, in all its glory:
So following that feel-good bit we got to the real stuff – Luc Besson’s 1991 French film Nikita (usually marketed in the States as “La Femme Nikita”). The whole thing starts with a robbery gone bad (doesn’t everything?).
Nikita is along with a gang that breaks into the shop (not coincidentally owned by the father of one of the hoods) in order to steal the known valuables. Well, Dad busts in, the cops show up, and things go about as badly as possible. Pretty much everybody dies except Nikita, and she has the audacity to headshot a cop point-blank after it’s all basically over.
The French don’t have the death penalty, so Nikita is sentenced to life in prison. Well, technically the French don’t have the death penalty. But in this case Nikita’s suicide is faked and she is sent off to a secret prison facility where she is shortly given a choice: cooperate or die. So much for that whole “no death penalty” thing.
It’s never made clear why Nikita was chosen for the super-secret Build-Your-Own-Assassin program, but her handler Bob (that’s French for “Marcel”) must have seen something in her. Well, it’s not like the training process went completely smoothly (she’s a bit of a rebel, you know) and she spends a bit of time kicking ass on the bosses until it’s made clear that there’s already an empty grave with her name on it and nobody would ever really know that the only thing wrong was the date. So she shapes up and becomes a super-secret assassin with an attitude of gold.
After a few years, she’s deemed ready, so her handler takes her out to dinner at a fancy restaurant (the first time she’s been out of the facility, which apparently is in the heart of Paris). Of course, the service is terrible, so rather than order dinner, Bob gives her a gun and tells her to assassinate that diplomat over there after he clears the building. There’s a window she can climb out of in the women’s restroom.
The assassination itself goes pretty smoothly but the window in the bathroom was bricked over. So she has a bit of a firefight with the security folks in the kitchen and escapes by jumping through a garbage chute (just ahead of a nice fireball). She’s really pissed about the whole situation, but for some reason she makes her way back to the super-secret prison facility where Bob admits that he knew the window was bricked over. It was all part of the test, which she passed.
One imagines (given her luck fending off dozens of heavily armed guards and an escape that relied on happening upon a garbage chute) that very few assassins would pass the test. Seems kind of wasteful, really. I mean, you spend years training up a ninja sniper assassin just to have a 90% morbidity rate on the first mission – and that morbidity due to the fact that you make it hard for them to survive? No wonder we had to bail the French out twice in the 20th century.
Because she passed, Nikita is released on her own recognizance as a sleeper agent. The first thing she does isn’t to try to contact her parents or friends to point out she’s not really dead (another one of those fatal flaws in the project) but rather to go to the grocery store to pick up a few things: some wine, some chicken, a check-out clerk…just an average Friday night in the Nikita household. Anyway, she and Marco the clerk become a long-term thing which is going great until the government decides it needs her services again.
Her first mission is really exciting – she dresses up as a hotel maid and delivers a bugged room service order. That’s all. Then they tell her to go home. In fact it went so well that Bob sends her off to a vacation in Venice with Marco – where she finds she needs to pretend she’s taking a long bath while sniping a target from the bathroom.
Oh, sorry, that wasn’t right. how about this:
Oh, I almost forgot. One of the benefits of being a super-secret sleeper spy is that you get to wear awesome hats to meetings with your handler.
This particular meeting results in Nikita getting a third mission – a long-termer to get some sensitive documents from an embassy, where Nikita gets to build her own “team”. The plan was going pretty well, but when they tried to pull it off one snag leads to the need to bring in “Victor the Cleaner”.
Victor is played by Jean Reno, who brings an element of awesome into the movie, including driving through a brick wall to escape a parking garage (see, there’s the trick, Nikita!) before dying of gunshot wounds.
Anyway, Nikita finishes the job. And her boyfriend Marco is onto her. And things are only going to get worse, she figures, so she decides to disappear. That would be fatal flaw #3 of the French secret assassin program. Sometimes your agents just kind of bail on you. And you don’t even chase them down. The end.