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‘Point of No Return’ (R)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 19, 1993

"Point of No Return," starring Bridget Fonda, is an American remake of a French thriller that itself seemed a sort of remake of a generic American caper film. The original was Luc Besson's "La Femme Nikita," and it told the story of a drugged-out street waif named Maggie who kills a policeman during a raid on a pharmacy and is sentenced to die. As a last chance, she is offered -- if that is the word -- a new identity and a new lease on life by the government as an assassin. If she accepts, she will be trained in weapons, languages, computers, the martial arts and the arts of femininity, and released into the world to do murder in the service of freedom.

If she refuses she's dead.

She accepts.

It would be fashionable to claim that this American version is a debasement of the original, but in this case the original wasn't so original in the first place. And the slick, Hollywood repaint that director John Badham gives it is actually an improvement, even if a heartless one. The Robert Getchell/Alexandra Seros script tries to supply a layer of psychological depth by playing on the Svengali scenario between this wild child and her government controller (played with suave insouciance by Gabriel Byrne). When Anne Bancroft instructs this barely socialized street rat in the necessary rules of elegant society, there's a bit of the old "Miracle Worker" inserted as well.

But shallow is shallow, no matter how well-dressed up it is. And even with a brisk, economical performance from Fonda, that's what "Point of No Return" is, an ugly duckling in a swanky dress.

"Point of No Return" is rated R for violence and language.

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