Little Nikita never really materializes as a taut espionage thriller and winds up as an unsatisfying execution of a clever premise – a teen’s traumatic discovery that his parents are Soviet spies.
Film opens strongly as parallel storylines unfold and audience is drawn in by the need to decipher the link between the mission of a Soviet agent and an all-American family in the mythical San Diego suburb of Fountain Grove.
Poised at the juncture of these developments is FBI agent Sidney Poitier, whose natural intensity seems just right for the role.
Poitier encounters River Phoenix, a youngster who decides to apply for the Air Force Academy, on a routine FBI check. When some peculiar data turns up on Phoenix’ parents – convincingly portrayed by Richard Jenkins and Caroline Kava – Poitier begins an investigation that leads to an almost avuncular bonding with Phoenix.