Welcome to the latest edition of 24 Frames. Sahara Shrestha and Andrew Jamieson will be guiding you through the exciting, confusing and often brilliant world of 'film'. Expect news, trailers and plenty of opinion.

The latest edition is brought to you by Andrew Jamieson, who can be found on twitter over at @theghostwriterc.



24 Frames: The 'Assassin' Edition

This week we have seen new trailers for Machete Kills, Thor: The Dark World and next week sees the release of Kick Ass 2, then in a few months we will have the next instalment of The Hunger Games. All of these movies have one thing in common: they all feature female action heroines. Expect to hear the 24 Frames take on all of these movies over the coming months.

When I thought of the characters in these movies I found myself being drawn back to a movie that was critically lambasted and one which failed at the US box office in 1993, the movie was the Bridget Fonda starring The Assassin which was known as Point of No Return when it was originally released in the United States, following its poor reception the movie's title was changed for other geographical regions.

The trailer for the movie features music from the French composer Eric Serra; the piece of music is from the soundtrack to the film that The Assassin is based on: Luc Besson's 1990 movie La Femme Nikita. The Besson movie about a feral, female drug addict who is convicted for murder prior to being recruited to work as a contract agent for the government is widely considered to be a classic piece of action cinema. The US remake is widely considered to be a weaker film that warrants its current 5.8 out of 10 rating on the Internet Movie Database. While I enjoy Besson's movie, I would like to controversially suggest that the remake is on a par with the original and to me is one of the best action movies from that era and beyond.

Looking back at the movie, its driving force is that of a character centric piece. The Bridget Fonda character has an arc within the movie in which she begins to believe that redemption is possible for her past deeds. Of course this is also played out in the original movie but what Fonda manages to do is to imbue her rehabilitated self with a sense of the old feral and criminal natures that drove her during her drug addled past. Her character is a fully developed feminine character in that she is confident, emotive and views her life progression in the context of who she is as a woman.

The movie almost plays out in the style of a traditional romance juxtaposed with an espionage thriller. When I look at the similar movies such as Haywire (Steven Soderbergh - 2011) or Salt (Phillip Noyce - 2010) while entertaining, these movies do contain an emotional arc for the central protagonist that defines the narrative structure. When Christopher Nolan or Stephen Spielberg follow this structure they are lauded and yet this supposedly 'silly' movie essentially follows the same character based structure these modern directors use when dealing with archetypal characters such as Bruce Wayne or the John Anderton character in Minority Report (2002).

  • Bridget Fonda and Gabriel Byrne in the Assassin

While La Femme Nikita is more aware of its own political and moral subtexts, the remake places you into the heart of the main character in a far more effective way. While the two movies follow exactly the same structure, the US version portrays its female heroine as a focused individual from the time she starts working for the government to the conclusion of the movie. In Besson's original the central character played by Anne Parillaud is reduced to an emotional wreck in the third act of the movie. It is ironic that Besson chooses to make this point clear just as the male antagonist 'The Cleaner' played by Jean Reno enters the fray. In the remake the female character maintains her drive and determination even in the face of a seemingly omnipotent male presence.

The movie also features a wonderful score from Hans Zimmer, who at the time was not the world renowned composer that he is today. His percussion and synthesizer are ever present hear. The action is memorable and some of the dialogue is simply wonderful as Fonda places a new slant on a Nina Simone classic in a wonderfully crude way. The use of Nina Simone's music in the film gives one scene an emotional gravitas that is seldom found in the original, this music also ties the narrative to the opening of the movie with its eventual conclusion. The script is rich in this sense, but I will not say anymore as its worth waiting for!

  • Anne Parillaud in the original Luc Besson movie

While this movie is not an authentic take on the espionage activities of the USA or female intelligence workers (see Zero Dark Thirty for that!) - it is a pointed example of a movie I believe is an unsung piece of magic which deserves to be looked at again. It is a wonderful character piece and a great entry into the pantheon of Hollywood cinema - a movie that deserved far more than its box office receipts and its IMDB rating! It is also a movie that is right up there with its older sister: La Femme Nikita. As we watch Gina Carano, Jennifer Lawrence, Maggie Q, Chloe Grace Moretz and our other modern action heroines, keep Bridget Fonda in mind; she returned from the point of no return with her head held high.