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Nikita: The Complete First Season(TV) (2010-2011)
Division is an ultra-secret government agency whose operatives are recruited young people with severed ties to family, friends and society. Trained to be invisible assassins, no one ever leaves Division -- except the charming and deadly Nikita, who has managed to escape, making it her mission to undermine the now-corrupt organization. A force to be reckoned with, the rogue Nikita taunts Division, staying on their radar, but always one step ahead. Yet as determined as Nikita is to bring down her former agency, there are those just as determined to stop her, including Division's newest recruit Alex, a beautiful young woman who seems destined to replace Nikita as their next top operative.
For more about Nikita: The Complete First Season and the Nikita: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see Nikita: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 31, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Maggie Q, Lyndsy Fonseca, Shane West, Xander Berkeley, Melinda Clarke, Aaron Stanford
» See full cast & crew
Nikita: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
A solid little action series sneaks onto Blu-ray with a fantastic little release...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 31, 2011
Talk about staying power. Nikita is the fourth iteration of Luc Besson's original 1990 French film of the same name (fifth, if you include 1991 Hong Kong thriller Hei mao), following John Badham's 1993 American remake, Point of No Return, and the five-season USA Network television series, La Femme Nikita (which breathed its last in 2001). Not too shabby for a twenty-year-old property. The question, though, is will it be around for another two decades? Showrunner Craig Silverstein's current take on the waif-turned-assassin saga doesn't offer a definitive "yes" or "no" on the matter. With just two-million viewers, Nikita's first twenty-two episode season wasn't a hit by any means, but it did earn a second season. Someone at the CW, it seems, believes in Nikita. And for good reason. While Silverstein's reimagining isn't a hardened killer -- yet -- it just might be come this September... if Silverstein's creative team can fix a few nagging issues. Based on the last two episodes alone, both of which set the stage for a deadly second season, I'd say chances are good.
Nikita makes a number of smart tweaks to the original Besson formula and -- if you squint your eyes, turn the story sideways and look at it quickly -- stands as a pseudo-sequel of sorts. Three years ago, a highly skilled operative named Nikita (Maggie Q, Mission: Impossible III) went into hiding having sworn to bring down Division, a secret organization that recruits young criminals and raises them as covert agents and assassins; the same secret organization that recruited and raised her. Now, Nikita's revenge is almost at hand. Her plan hinges on two allies: Michael (Shane West, Echelon Conspiracy), a high-ranking officer in Division, and Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca, Desperate Housewives), a young girl whose parents were murdered by Division when she was just fourteen. Trained to resist the agency's brainwashing techniques, Alex attracts the attention of Division, passes all necessary tests and begins working to dismantle the organization from within. But taking out Division proves to be more difficult than anyone anticipated. Nikita, still in hiding, has to operate from the shadows. Michael, aware of his precarious position, has to proceed with extreme caution. And Alex, in constant danger herself, has to contend with loyal Division recruit Jaden (Tiffany Hines, Bones), shrewd agency psychologist Amanda (Melinda Clarke, Entourage) and manipulative Division director Percy (Xander Berkeley, 24).
"Trust no one" isn't a series mantra, thank God, but double and triple crosses aren't the least bit uncommon. Nikita hits, kicks, fires and 'splodes, even though it's riddled with plotting, plotting and more plotting. Words like "twists" and "turns" don't even begin to describe the tangled webs Silverstein and his writers spin over the course of the first season. Missing a single episode could set you back weeks. Just running to the kitchen for a drink without hitting pause could leave your head spinning. Not that I'm complaining. There's a fair amount of fun to be had for those willing (or able) to sit back, bite their nails and go with whatever semi-convoluted game of spy-vs-spy the showrunners have in store from one episode to the next. Decisions have lasting consequence and trust is never a certainty; assurances are relative and truth is always shifting; motivations are never entirely clear and allegiances are shaky, even at their best. But in the midst of all the backstabbing and mole-hunting, is a show that, in some ways, does what Dollhouse could not: deliver single-serving, episodic action while weaving a more involving series-spanning narrative. Nikita offers two versions of Besson's haunted criminal-turned-assassin -- Fonseca's naive operative in training and Maggie Q's veteran killer -- and the interplay and intrigue works hand in hand. Even throwaway episodes are anything but expendable, and Silverstein has a firm grip on pacing, gunplay, criss-crossing conspiracies, sleight-of-hand and, every once in a while, the kind of head-snapping, jaw-dropping game-changers series like Nikita serve for breakfast.
That said, Nikita also suffers from the earliest stages of Whedon Envy, a syndrome that drives show-writers to pepper their dialogue with pop culture references, pithy zingers and distracting she told you! one-liners. Tone is King when it comes to television series, and Nikita doesn't quite know what it wants to be when it grows up. Is it an edgy ensemble thriller? A humorless actioner? A feisty snark-n-splosions romp? A somber mutli-character study? A tense and twisty reboot? Rather than settle on a weapon of choice, Nikita arms itself with everything within reach, and weighs itself down in the process. Shootouts are hit or miss (Q gets down to business, Fonseca and Hines tend to look like kids playing dress-up), drama and romance sizzles or fizzles based on the actors shouldered with the scenes, the show's villains are far more one-dimensional than its flawed heroes, and dialogue is all over the place (although it often comes down to which actor is saying it, not necessarily what's being said). But while Q and West outclass and outmaneuver their younger castmates, there is a definite progression as the series barrels along. The second half of Season One is much stronger than its first and the last four episodes are stronger still. There's a sense that Silverstein and his team are closing in on what they want Nikita to be, and the stories, dialogue and action improve in tandem. It isn't quite there yet, I'll admit, but it's close. So close. With some refinement, with an influx of additional characters, and with a more flexible framework, Nikita's second season could be yet another TiVo-worthy CW standout.
Nikita: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
There isn't much room for improvement in Nikita's sharp and steady 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. Rene Ohashi's palette doesn't always light up the skies, but its steel-blue Division interiors, striking primaries, alluring skintones and ruthless black levels rarely falter. Fine detail excels as well with crisp, well-resolved textures, razor-wire edges, refined closeups, consistent clarity and excellent delineation. Explosions, gunfights and breakneck action sequences exhibit some exceedingly minor issues (faint aliasing, pulldown-like anomalies and other mishaps sometimes appear for a split second), noise sometimes spikes when lighting is less than ideal, and softer shots occasionally work their way into each of the first season's twenty-two episodes. However, none of it amounts to anything remotely resembling a distraction, and the whole of the presentation borders on stunning. For every split-second hiccup, there are hours of perfectly rendered faces, fabrics and holsters. Unfamiliar with the creases on Maggie Q's brow? You won't be. Wondering about her tattoos? Not for long. Curious as to how many wrinkles jut across Berkley's forehead? Get counting. Better still, artifacting and banding are kept to an absolute minimum, ringing and crush aren't factors, and the only inconsistencies and shortcomings of note trace back to the series' source and Ohashi's action-packed photography. Fans and newcomers alike will be blown away.
Nikita: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner's sternum-cracking, neck-snapping, heavy-hitting DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is... wait for it... a blast as well. Dialogue is clean, nicely centered and perfectly intelligible, regardless of whether it's barked in the middle of a shootout or whispered under cover of darkness. The rear speakers never say die either, filling the already pulse-pounding soundfield with convincing ambience and lifelike acoustics. Nikita and her allies often stick to the shadows, so crowded locales aren't always commonplace. But, as you might expect, infiltration missions and covert ops have a way of spilling into bustling city streets, sneaking into chatty dinner parties and tackling heavily guarded rooms and warehouses, making for plenty of sonic fireworks, whether guns are drawn or not. Effects have particular punch, pans are silky smooth, and directionality exhibits deadly accuracy. Likewise, LFE output is big and bold, exerting force when called upon and lending weight as needed. If I have any nitpick, it's that David E. Russo's edge-of-your-seat (albeit slightly generic) spy score is sometimes buried in the mix. Not to any detrimental ends, but buried all the same. Even so, Warner's lossless track doesn't disappoint. Nikita sounds fantastic.
Nikita: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Nikita: The Complete First Season isn't armed to the teeth -- a twenty-two episode payload warrants more than two commentaries, as far as I'm concerned -- but the 4-disc set holds its own with the help of an hour-long production documentary, an additional half-hour of character featurettes and twenty-minutes of deleted scenes, all presented in high definition.
Nikita: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If any network can make Nikita last, it's the CW. Modest ratings? No problem. Growing pains? Take your time. Small but loyal fanbase? Well done. Season One is a tight, intrigue-fueled actioner with enough surprises up its sleeve to make it a thrill ride worth taking. It has its share of problems, sure, but nothing that can't be solved if the showrunners have been paying attention. (Which, if the last few episodes are any indication, they are.) Season Two is set to storm Friday nights this September, so we'll see if this incarnation of Nikita has as much staying power as the property itself. Whether you end up loving the series or shrugging it off, though, Warner's Blu-ray release is a strong one, with a terrific video presentation, an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio Track and a slick set of extras (with an hour-long production documentary) to boot.
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Nikita: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Nikita: The Complete First Season Blu-ray (Updated) - June 10, 2011
Warner Bros. has announced that they will release Nikita: The Complete First Season on August 30th. This CW action series, based on Luc Besson's 1990 French classic La Femme Nikita, stars Maggie Q (Live Free and Die Hard) as a spy who has gone rogue from her corrupt ...
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