Matthew Lickona 4:30 p.m., Aug. 20
Luc Besson, of La Femme Nikita and The Big Blue, finally comes to America in body besides spirit: to New York, in specific, for an action yarn, or yawn, about a milk-drinking, plant-nurturing, granny-sunglasses-wearing existential French hitman who initiates a barely pubescent orphan girl into the trade. The director's alienness is inescapable: not just in cinematic hommages such as the Mr. MacGuffin alias or the admiration for Gene Kelly, but in such a howler as the notion that a ghetto girl, daughter of a scummy drug dealer and a streetwalking stepmom, would be enrolled in an exclusive private school in pastoral New Jersey. The details of the hitman's world (he can't read or write in English? he allows his boss to hold his earnings while he himself lives in squalor? he charges only $5000 a hit? he announces his arrival and his intentions to prospective targets?) are no more convincing. With Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, Danny Aiello. 1994.
- Rated R