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Little Nikita (1988)

PG | | Drama, Thriller | 18 March 1988 (USA)
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An F.B.I. Agent works to uncover an All-American family as Soviet sleeper Agents, and gets caught up in friendship with their unaware son.

Director:

Richard Benjamin

Writers:

John Hill (screenplay), Bo Goldman (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sidney Poitier ... Roy Parmenter
River Phoenix ... Jeff Grant
Richard Jenkins ... Richard Grant
Caroline Kava ... Elizabeth Grant
Richard Bradford ... Konstantin Karpov
Richard Lynch ... Scuba
Loretta Devine ... Verna McLaughlin
Lucy Deakins ... Barbara Kerry
Jerry Hardin ... Brewer
Albert Fortell ... Bunin
Robert Madrid ... Sgt. Leathers (as Robb Madrid)
Ronald Guttman ... Spessky
Jacob Vargas ... Miguel
Roberto Jiménez Roberto Jiménez ... Joaquin
Chez Lister Chez Lister ... Tom
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Storyline

Roy Parmenter is a veteran FBI agent who has spent the last 20 years trying to find the Russian agent who killed his partner whom he calls Scuba. When a couple of deep cover Russian agents are killed Parmenter thinks Scuba is the one doing it. The Russians who have received word from Scuba that if they want him to stop, they have to pay him. So they send a veteran Russian agent, Karpov to stop him. Parmenter was tasked with performing background checks on people applying for certain things requiring security clearance and when he comes across Jeffrey Grant who's applying to the Air Force Academy, he discovers that his parents' info is false. He also learns of Karpov coming into the country and suspects that he is here to stop Scuba and that Karpov went to the city where Jeffrey and his family live, so he decides to keep an eye on Jeffrey and his family. Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He went to bed an all-American kid and woke up the son of Russian spies.

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 March 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Sleepers See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,733,070
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The filming of this movie evolved in the same pattern as the film's script's conflict. "The picture is very light in the beginning and slowly builds tension as it moves along", Director Richard Benjamin commented and added, "in the beginning it's fun, and then it reaches down into the heart of the matter, almost destroying a family. This structure is what appealed to me about the story". Producer Harry Gittes has guided the film through its continuous evolution over a four-year period. According to Gittes, it was former Columbia Chief David Puttnam who first suggested the casting of Sidney Poitier: "The signing of Sidney was one of the luckiest things that ever happened to us. Suddenly, we had the experienced pro and the young new firebrand together in a movie, and it added an extra dimension that is remarkable on-screen." See more »

Goofs

When Karpov gets into the cab after crossing the border, the camera, crew, lights and a bounce board are reflected in the window. See more »

Quotes

Konstantin Karpov: [addressing Elizabeth and Richard Grant - Soviet sleeper agents] Your discipline is sorely wanting. The Directorate will be most unhappy. You must go to work immediately.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Conflict (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Sleeping Beauty
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Shove this up your bladder, Boris."
19 June 2018 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

River Phoenix co-stars in this political thriller as "Jeff Grant", an All-American teenager determined to enrol in the Air Force Academy to impress his parents. What he's never known is that his dad and mom (Richard Jenkins, Caroline Kava) are in reality Soviet "sleeper" agents that have long been residents of the U.S. of A. FBI agent Roy Parmenter (Sidney Poitier) finds this out, and goes out of his way to befriend Jeff, hoping to expose the parents. But while this is going on, a renegade Soviet agent, "Scuba" (Richard Lynch), is busy eliminating sleepers in hopes of a payoff. The KGB sends one of their top men, Konstantin Karpov (Richard Bradford), to apprehend Scuba.

"Little Nikita" is directed competently enough by actor / filmmaker Richard Benjamin ("My Favourite Year"), but it's almost defeated by an utterly lousy script, credited to John Hill and Bo Goldman. It has barely a believable moment, but, to be fair, the incredible absurdity of the dialogue and scenes is good for some laughs. Poitier does give the movie some life with a lively and jokey performance; he's amusing, helping to smooth over a lot of those rough spots. Phoenix is good as the kid who's confronted with this truth about his folks that seems impossible to swallow. In fact, it's this excellent cast (also including Jerry Hardin as Poitiers' superior, Loretta Devine as a guidance counsellor who gets into bed with Poitier, and a briefly seen Lucy Deakins as Jeffs' girlfriend) that makes this preposterous movie as entertaining as it is. It really goes off the rails towards the end, with a priceless climax that turns the parents into action heroes! This is followed by more nonsense - a standoff on a trolley, a denouement on a border crossing.

Somewhat fun on a no-brainer level, but Phoenix's next picture, "Running on Empty", about another average American kid forced to deal with an unpleasant reality about his folks, is superior.

Six out of 10.


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