When Luc Besson sat down and write his 1990 film Nikita about a female criminal hired as an assassin by the French government I wonder if he had any idea that it’d soon join that list of concepts TV execs just couldn’t resist.
Having already been turned into a (so I’m told) so-so TV series in 1997, you might have thought every last bit of originality had been wrung from the concept but you’d be wrong – Hollywood has dusted off the idea for a new spin.
This time round Maggie Q stars as Nikita, a former teenage criminal recruited by the secretive Division – headed by Xander Berkeley as Percy- to work as an assassin but who has now turned rogue and threatens to expose and bring down Division. As you;d expect, Percy’s not too keen on having his secret army and its excesses exposed and he’s equally determined to stop Nikita by whatever means are necessary.
The series premiered in the US last week and, in what could become the new standard for international markets, each episode will be uploaded to the UK iTunes store the day after it airs in the States and ahead of an October broadcast on digital channel LIVING.
Along with a selection of other TV reviewers and bloggers I was whisked away last Thursday to a secret location with a suitably spy-like feeling for a preview of the first episode.
In keeping with the tone, this was no ordinary screening. The usual big screen was replaced by an individual iPad – sadly we didn’t get to keep them – which seemed to go down well with most of the crowd.
First episodes are always a tough thing to call – the meanie in me always strays towards thinking they should be nothing short of excellent in order to grip the audience from the outset but the realist in me recognises that no new series can be perfect from day one – cast and crew always take time to get into the swing of things and many shows which to go on greatness have very ropey pilots and first episodes.
Nikita has an ‘ok’ opener, it’s not bad – the cast turn in some sound performances, there’s no clunking dialogue I can recall, the plot does a good job of setting things up and I’m unusually willing to see what happens next.
Maybe inevitably, the series has overtones of Mission Impossible and the Jason Bourne movies – with a dash of Logan’s Run thrown in for good measure – and the format has potential to deliver some great action sequences and stunts.
I’m going to hold off from deciding whether this is a real goer or not until I’ve seen more, but if you’re in the market for a new action/adventure series NIKITA might be just the thing you’re looking for.
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