The biggest difference that sets John Badham’s remake apart from Luc Besson’s original “La Femme Nikita” is the context of the decade. Even set in the late eighties to early nineties, Besson’s original has a very timeless appeal to it and is still a template for many action films. John Badham’s remake though is very soaked in nineties ephemera, to the point where you can almost hear “90210” playing in the background of every scene. Thus it distracts from the story Badham is trying to tell. Which is a stacked deck, considering “Point of No Return” is a weak retread of an action masterpiece.
It’s by no means awful, but I won’t re-watch it any time soon, unless I intend to gawk at Bridget Fonda. If anyone is fit to take over for the role of Anne Parillaud, it’s Bridget Fonda, who at her prime was alluring and damn sexy. Fonda really puts her all in to what is a limp remake of the Besson film, offering her own take on the original punk rock drug addicted character, while also paying homage in small instances. Director Badham sticks true to the original film in many respects, even establishing the character the same way the Besson did. During a botched robbery of a local grocery store, a group of gangsters kill the owner of the store and flee leaving Maggie behind.
Proceeding to murder a cop, she’s taken in to custody and given the lethal injection. She awakens in a top secret facility where she’s now being trained and mentor to become an assassin. Though the world thinks she’s dead, she’s very much alive, and is given the ultimatum to train as a skilled hit woman, or actually die from a lethal injection for her crimes. The fault here is that Fonda injects much more pathos and substance to the role of Maggie, where as Parillaud felt like a feral street urchin with almost no past, and definitely no future. Fonda plays Maggie much too sane, so her transformation in to elegant hit woman really isn’t startling at all. Beyond that, director Badham Hollywoodizes this version with a very heavy emphases on romance, and love triangles.
Maggie’s moving to a new city eventually leads to her befriending and eventually romancing a local surfer and bachelor (Dermot Mulroney) resulting in a lot of really boring and tedious love montages that pack in the cheese shamelessly. The action becomes nothing but an afterthought for much of the second half, which is a shame considering we should be seeing how Maggie’s new life interferes with her attempts at normality. When Badham actually zeroes in on the action, there’s no style or urgency to it, and he also painfully misuses the character of the Cleaner. “Point of No Return” is a pointless and often bland reworking of the electric Besson original, but it’s definitely worth visiting if you’re a fan of Fonda’s work. This certainly would not be the last time Besson’s “La Femme Nikita” was mined for more remakes and retreads, that’s for sure.