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For other meanings of 'point of no return', see Point of no return (disambiguation).
Point of No Return

US Poster
Directed by John Badham
Produced by Art Linson
Written by Robert Getchell, Alexandra Seros
Starring Bridget Fonda
Gabriel Byrne
Miguel Ferrer
Dermot Mulroney
with Anne Bancroft
and Harvey Keitel
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Michael Ferris, Michael Watkins
Editing by Frank Morriss
Distributed by Warner Bros
Release date(s) 19 March 1993
Running time 1:41 (1:48 in US)
Language English/French/Italian

Point of No Return, known as The Assassin in some markets, is a 1993 film directed by John Badham and starring Bridget Fonda. It is a remake of Luc Besson's 1990 film Nikita.



Maggie (Bridget Fonda) is a drug addict found guilty of murdering a police officer during the unsuccessful burglary of a drugstore in Washington DC. She has several violent outbursts before her trial and is sentenced to be executed by lethal injection. However, she wakes up in a holding cell and a man named Bob (Gabriel Byrne) informs her that for all intents and purposes the girl once known as Maggie is dead, showing her photos of her own funeral and burial - 'plot 48, row 12' of a local cemetery.

Bob tells Maggie he works for a secret government agency now offering to use her as an operative, having seen her demonstrate her fighting skills in the police lockup and the courtroom. Maggie hesitates but Bob tells her that her only alternative is 'plot 48, row 12'.

Maggie agrees to cooperate but her training is wrought with difficulty as she becomes frustrated with learning etiquette, how to use a computer, and other points of 'refinement'. Her nervy nature leads agency director Kaufman (Miguel Ferrer) to decide that Bob cannot succeed, she will be put in 'plot 48, row 12'. Bob takes this information to Maggie, who is finally sobered into submission.

Operative Amanda (Anne Bancroft) finally transforms her into a refined beautiful woman and she is to be taken out of doors for the first time in six months on a dinner date with Bob.

But the dinner date turns out to be a challenge rather than a meal. She is given a present by Bob over a bottle of Dom Perignon and when she opens it she sees a wooden presentation case containing a pistol with an extra cartridge. He tells her who already present in the restaurant she is to assassinate and how she is to escape - through a window in the men's room. Maggie steps out of her high heeled shoes and carries out her mission: she goes to the designated table, assassinates the target, then runs downstairs to the men's room, only to find the window blocked. She flees through a laundry chute in the restaurant kitchen and returns to the compound on foot where she confronts Bob for giving her incorrect information and abandoning her at the scene. Bob explains the exercise was her last test and she is to be released and sent on assignment the following morning.

The following morning she leaves for Venice California as hi-tech sales executive Claudia Doran and is given the code name Nina after her favourite singer Nina Simone.

Claudia enters into a relationship with apartment house manager JP (Dermot Mulroney) who is frequently frustrated by her 'guarded' personality.

When she tries to quit her work as a professional killer it is all she can do to escape with her life. As things progress between her and JP, she asks Bob for a way out and asks for his help. He refuses. She turns to Amanda but gets no help from her either. Bob later informs Claudia that if she carries out her next mission successfully, he will try to get her out of the agency.

Claudia agrees, masquerading as Angela (Olivia D'Abo), the girlfriend of Fahd Bakhtiar (Richard Romanus), an Iranian trading in nuclear weapons secrets. However, taking out Angela proves problematic and results in the deaths of Angela's two body guards and the injury of Claudia's increasingly hysterical assistant. Kaufman sends in Victor the 'cleaner' (Harvey Keitel). Claudia's assistant waxes hysterical again as she watches Victor dispose of the bodies and an unconscious Angela with sulfuric acid. and Victor shoots her. Claudia remains calm, repeating a phrase Amanda taught her for just such an occasion.

Claudia dresses up as Angela as the cleaner continues with his work and they drive to Fahd's home. She manages to make it upstairs to where he is bathing and pulls out a gun. She gets Fahd to unlock his computer and reveal his secrets but she hesitates at killing him and Fahd manages to knock her to the ground. Claudia flees the Fahd's house under gunfire from his bodyguards and joins the cleaner waiting in the car.

Claudia sees a gun in Victor's waistband and suspects he's going to kill her. She reaches for her purse and as she goes for her gun, Victor grabs his own and the two struggle, Claudia putting on the parking brake, resulting in the car swirling and then crashing through a fence, where it hands precariously over a cliff, the engine still running at full speed. Both struggle, and as Victor attempts to choke Claudia, the car runs over Victor, pulling him down the hill and crashing at the bottom.

Claudia makes her way back to her flat, but the following morning JP discovers she's gone, leaving her clothes and her possessions behind. Bob arrives at the flat where he learns of her disappearance from JP. Bob leaves and as he drives away, Claudia watches him in the mist from the street.

Bob, however, backs his car up, in time to see Claudia walking away. He calls Kaufman to inform him that the cleaner is dead, and hesitates for a moment before telling him that Claudia too is dead. Claudia is then seen walking away and smiling, knowing she is free at last.


The film grossed approximately $30,038,362 in the US and received mixed reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert who gave the original Nikita three and a half stars out of four[1], gave Return three stars, saying: "Point of No Return is actually a fairly effective and faithful adaptation and Bridget Fonda manages the wild identity swings of her role with intensity and conviction, although not the same almost poetic sadness that Anne Parillaud brought to the original movie. If I didn't feel the same degree of involvement with Point of No Return that I did with Nikita it may be because the two movies are so similar in plot, look, and feel. I had déjà vu all through the movie. There are a few changes, mostly not for the better. By making the heroine's boyfriend a photographer this time instead of a checkout clerk, the movie loses the poignancy of their relationship; Nikita liked her clerk precisely because he was completely lacking in aggression."[2]


The main character of the movie (played by Bridget Fonda) has a fascination for the singer/pianist/songwriter Nina Simone. Throughout the movie various songs of Nina Simone are used.

Together with the earlier rerelease of "My Baby Just Cares for Me" in 1982, this movie helped bring back Nina Simone into the public limelight and made her better known with a younger audience.

The film score was composed by Hans Zimmer with contributions by Nick Glennie-Smith and today is regarded as one of their best ever.


  1. ^ La Femme Nikita review, Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, April 3, 1991
  2. ^ Point of No Return review, Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, March 19, 1993

See also

External links

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