Nikita - "Pilot"

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The French thriller film Nikita was one of those great films I still have fond memories of watching, while it's not quite as brilliant as its cousin Leon it's only a small whisker behind the latter film. Likewise I also have positive memories of La Femme Nikita, a show that managed to have sophisticated plotting and dialogue driving behind it when it could have simply fallen into the pattern of brainless action/thriller. So when I was given a chance to check out and review Nikita's pilot episode I was quite happy to do so.

"Nikita" is a show that takes a slightly new slant on the classic story of the female assassin, instead of dealing with Nikita's induction, training and development the pilot episode sets Nikita (Maggie Q) as a fully fledged, rogue agent on the run from the agency that created her (known as Division). The episode also chooses to follow a young street girl named Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) who is 'recruited' by Division after her involvement in a robbery homicide where it is presumed by the police (and Division) that she is the shooter - in truth her partner, who escapes, is the shooter.

It's an important thing for any remake of a story, especially one that has been told three times previously, to have an interesting and fresh take. Nikita's pilot episode certainly seems to deliver on that front, we're thrown straight into the middle of a blooming situation with a fully capable and confident Nikita on the loose. I think if the show had attempted to retell the training of Nikita yet again I probably wouldn't have been as favourably disposed towards it, so this new slant on the tale - with the added 'learning character' of Alex is an excellent mix and one that I believe will work.

The pilot episode on the whole is a solid affair with occasional sparks of brilliance, it comes together very well by the end of the episode and the hook that occurs there is enough to make you want to come back and find out what's next. But the setting as a whole feels a little unformed at this point, yes it's an early show, but for something that is designed to have so much history as part of it's plot it doesn't feel like there's a weight of time behind the characters. There's a little bit too much tabula rasa involved, but this is something that time and later episodes should address.

The nature of exposition that is present is also of a concern, on occasion it's done quite well and there is signs of a deft touch behind a few of the plot points and reveals, but more often than not it's a little bit to heavy-handed and on-the-nose. As I'm looking at just the pilot episode here that's a forgivable sin, Nikita doesn't have an extended pilot to work with so they do have a lot of ground to try and cover. It's just a shame that for an episode that is almost entirely exposition and set up it's not more polished. But, as I mentioned previously this is something that can be forgiven given time to grow.

The cast in particular shows great potential, Maggie Q as Nikita is every bit as great as you'd expect her to be after seeing her various film performances; but Maggie is only shouldering half of the lead plot - the remainder laying with Lyndsy Fonseca as Alex. Lyndsy I've previously seen briefly as 'Ted's Daughter' in How I Met Your Mother and I've wanted to see her in a bigger role outside of HIMYM and The Young and The Restless. Fortunately for Nikita both female leads are superb, Maggie is confident and believable as the rogue assassin Nikita in action scenes (thanks to her background in martial arts courtesy of Jackie Chan) and she has great presence throughout any dramatic scenes. Lyndsy on the other hand is just magnetic as the street child rescued by division and I feel is one to watch in the coming episodes - I'm confident that given time she'll end up being a break out character and a firm favourite.

Speaking of favourites, ex-24 cast member Xander Berkeley is also a great casting, I really grew to appreciate his performance as George Mason on 24 and he's well cast here as Percy the head of Division. And amongst others I was pleased to see memorable Firefly guest star Melinda Clarke as Division trainer Amanda. Both of them are great and the cast as a whole seems solid.

Nikita looks like a great television show in the making, while the pilot episode is a little empty in places and occasionally the exposition is a little too full on there's a lot of potential locked up and waiting to be unleashed. As The CW have committed to airing a full 22 episode season along with great female leads, strong action and solid dialogue that means Nikita is a show worth investing time in watching.

Nikia is being broadcast in the UK on Living
Nikita's official site is located here: http://www.cwtv.com/shows/nikita

 

1 comment so far.

  1. MediumRob 15 November 2010 at 18:35
    Really? I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. I thought it was largely stupid and dreadful: a mismatch of network and concept coupled with blocks of wood for actors:

    http://www.the-medium-is-not-enough.com/2010/09/review_nikita_1x1.php

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