Little Nikita (1988)


“Spy on my parents? You gotta be kidding me! You want me to help you put’em away? Never!” – Jeff Grant

Number of Times Seen – at least three times (Cable in the 80’s and 6 Aug 2019)

Brief Synopsis – A teenager finds out that his parents have been Russian sleeper spies in the U.S. from before he was born and are now being targeted by a rogue Russian agent.

My Take on it – This is a film that I recall seeing on cable as a kid and enjoying the way that the story unfolds.

Unfortunately tho, the plot doesn’t age well and worked much better during the period of the Cold War than it does now.

River Phoenix was a young actor with lots of potential and it’s once again painful to see what was lost when he died a few years after this film was made because he could have been so much greater if he had the time.

Sidney Poitier also does a great job in this film as the FBI agent trying to help Phoenix deal with his new found discovery about his parents.

Despite having taken a few year hiatus from acting before taking this role, he is easily back in form here and is even able to sow his youthful abilities in numerous scenes here.

The story as presented here comes across as being a bit strained and certain scenes come across as seeming quite silly instead of thrilling or suspenseful.

This is all quite unfortunate since this film and its premise have much more potential than is realized.

Bottom Line – Intriguing premise that probably worked much better when it came out during the height of the Cold War. Phoenix once again showed how great an actor he could be with this role and it is painful to see the amazing potential lost on him.  Poitier returns to form in this film after a short hiatus from acting and despite his age, shows how youthful he could act. The story itself is a bit strained and is presented in a somewhat silly way, but the intent and potential is there even if it’s slightly wasted.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Although this was not known at the time of this movie’s release, many years later it was revealed that there really was a cell of Russian Sleeper agents who had been “hiding in plain sight” in the United States for decades. Several of them had children, coworkers, friends, and neighbors who all had no idea that they were spies. In 2010, a group of these so-called “Illegals” were arrested and ultimately returned to Russia in a trade for some Americans that Russia was holding. (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (6/10)

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