Little Nikita - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Little Nikita Reviews

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March 18, 2016
"Little Nikita" is an espionage thriller for the TV-movie-of-the-week crowd, so thoroughly undercooked and so dependent on Red Scare 101 tropes that it's a wonder that we still manage to find diversion amidst its unremarkable formula. We can conclude that it most likely exists for no other reason than to serve as a vehicle for the legendary Sidney Poitier and the then-upcoming River Phoenix, who perform with such cogent resolve that it makes the film virtually impossible to dislike.
In "Little Nikita," Poitier portrays Roy Parmenter, an FBI agent preoccupied with Phoenix's Jeff Grant, a young Air Force Academy hopeful. Energetic and feeling trapped in his suburban life, Jeff, seventeen, wants nothing more than to graduate and call flying his living. But Parmenter couldn't care less about the teen's hopes and dreams; he's more infatuated by the boy's parents (Richard Jenkins and Caroline Kava), whose identities prove to be contradictory after undergoing a routine background check. A few days of snooping later and Parmenter finds that the Grants are hardly who they say they are - they are actually sleeper agents from the Soviet Union, deep undercover and apparently finished with the lives they once lived.
Of course, Jeff is completely in the dark when it comes to his true identity; in his mind, he's no different than any of the other young men on his block. And so Parmenter, who follows him around like a pesky gnat, is a pest who has a weird way of checking up with Air Force applicants. But the agent is less concerned with the dangers the "Grants" could possibly inflict on the U.S. and more with the danger that could be inflicted upon them; within the last few months, KGB agents are mysteriously being picked off by an anonymous force. They, despite throwing towels into their respective espionage bins, could become victims if they aren't careful. And so begins a deadly chase, Jeff creating conflict as he disregards peril in favor of passionate identity seeking.
We've seen films like "Little Nikita" many times previously, its clichés (from the constantly smoking, emotionless but brutal Russian villains to the determined, acutely patriotic hero) abundant and its innovations next to nothing. Its stabs at hard-hitting drama (namely the familial troubles that arise from Jeff's questioning of his selfhood) are after school special at best, and its attempts to veritably depict Cold War conflicts are shammy. The plot grows more tiresomely derisory as it goes along.
And yet, "Little Nikita" is besettingly watchable, in no doubt because Poitier and Phoenix are leading men able to make a wearisome film inimitably appealing, Poitier a lead of unbreakable doggedness, Phoenix a successor to James Dean whose edgy appeal only grows more abiding as time drags on. So maybe the film's dumbed-down politics and inept thrills are enough to turn most off - but as long as actors of its caliber are leading the way, there are worse ways to spend ninety-plus minutes.
April 15, 2015
Just kept waiting for this movie to get moving but it never did.
½ December 16, 2013
Little Nikita is a decent film. It is about an FBI agent works to uncover an All-American family as Soviet sleeper agents and gets caught up in friendship with their unaware son. Sidney Poitier and River Phoenix give good performances. The screenplay is enjoyable but a little slow in places. Richard Benjamin did an alright job directing this movie. I liked this motion picture because of the drama and mystery.
May 16, 2013
A film with a good core story and some strong scenes with good performances that simply suffers from bad directing that led to some cheesy music, cheesy editing and stereotypically bad filmmaking. And yet the sum of the experience if this film somehow outweighs its pieces and sticks with you. River Phoenix is the real star of this one, and yet even his performance suffers at times by bad writing.
½ April 1, 2013
good chemistry between river phoenix and sidney poitier. good plot that keeps you interested from beginning to end. very well done movie.
March 3, 2013
what do you get when you mix one part implausible plot and 4 parts overacting thrown in with some of the dullest action sequences ever...Little Nikita
January 22, 2013
Dull, dull, super dull spy thriller for kids. There's no real danger or tension in this film. Could've been a cool film but it was executed just so poorly. River Phoenix though is still top of the class.
½ November 13, 2012
Two great actor star in this fun action/popcorn flick. Used to love this as a kid.
October 27, 2012
Well acted and executed even if its uneven and sometimes cheesy.
½ December 19, 2011
This is one of the stupidest movies I have ever seen, however like many similarly dumb movies it does have its entertaining moments. To start with the plot is about as farfetched as they come. **SOME SPOILERS ** During a routine check to allow a boy into the airforce it comes to this FBI guy's attention that the boys parents are either the undead or are using fake names. Now the FBI agent has to do some snooping and finds out that the boy's parents are in fact Russian sleeper spies and that other sleeper spies in the region are being killed one by one by a rogue Russian spy! the FBI agent tells the boy who predictably does not believe that his all-American parents could be Russian spies but after he does some snooping he finds some passports revealing that his parents are Russian and in fact his name is not Jeff Nicholas Grant as he thought but is actually Nikita! We can all guess what's going to go down now. **END OF SPOILERS **

So the plot is a big weakness but combined with the terrible script Little Nikita makes all its cast and crew look like amateurs. There is seriously only one reason to watch this movie.....the crazy talented RIVER PHOENIX. Phoenix is the only one able to breathe some light and life into the script and his scenes are the only ones worthwhile watching. In a film that is undeserving of such talent River Phoenix comes away unscathed. His performance is solid even if at certain points he too looks embarrassed both by the lines he has to say and the stereotypical Russians he is playing against. Phoenix was the best actor of his generation and it is a deep tragedy that he was taken so young.

My verdict on this film is: AVERAGE script, AVERAGE plot, AVERAGE acting from all but River Phoenix who is great in every part.

Little Nikita is the kind of film you may want to catch on TV if you have a couple of spare hours. If you are a fan of River Phoenix then you probably want to check it out but don't expect too much, his performance is good but the movie itself is far from his best.
May 26, 2011
River is truly an amazing actor. I hope to see this movie soon.
½ May 7, 2011
Boring. No emotions whatsoever
½ February 5, 2011
River finally gets to play a normal teenager. He drives, has a girlfriend, and goes to pubs to hang out with Sidney Poitier. Only wait! His parents are Russian spies. This didn't grab me and was very forgettable. All of River Phoenix's movies were considered to be treasures in my eyes when I first became a fan so I do pay respect to this as a film that starred my idol. Other than that, this is a miss.
Super Reviewer
October 24, 2010
Ever have one of those days when you find out that your loving and caring parents are actually KGB spies? Weak cold war dramatics elevated by strong performances from Sidney Poitier and River Phoenix. Otherwise, it's completely forgettable.
Super Reviewer
April 5, 2010
Jeff Grant (River Phoenix) is a San Diego teen who discovers his father Richard (Richard Jenkins) and mother Elizabeth Grant) are KGB agents. When he applies to the Air Force Academy, a routine FBI check leads to the shocking news. Soon the suburb of Fountain Grove becomes the focus of international agents and espionage. FBI agent Roy Parmenter (Sidney Poitier) helps Jeff absorb the shock and he battles KGB agent Konstantin Karpov (Richard Bradford) in a race to capture the Soviet agents. The excellent performances from Poitier and Phoenix are the highlight of this feature.
½ February 5, 2010
I love this movie and River Phoenix was such an amazing actor.
½ January 17, 2010
Mostly boring film. The premise sounds quite good, but the film was just poorly done. The pace was awful, too. Nothing happened until the 2nd hour, really. Oh, yeah, it's also aged quite badly. The villains were good, though.
December 7, 2009
A far fetched but exciting tale. Well edited, rousing score. The cast does fine, the characters are a little extreme though and River Phoenix?s character is needlessly abrasive.Good pace. Not bad.
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