[Movie Review] Léon: The Professional

LeonStarring: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Danny Aiello, Natalie Portman, Michael Badalucco
Director: Luc Besson
Genre: Thriller
Cert: 18
Released: 1994

A lot was made of “Leon” when it was released a couple of years ago. An experienced and cold-hearted killer, Leon (Reno), takes an abused 12-year old under his wing when her family are murdered by corrupt cop, Stansfield (Oldman). The girl, Mathilda (Portman), is not greatly affected by the loss but is emotionally scarred by the ruthless murder of her innocent 4-year old brother. Leon reluctantly looks after Mathilda and through the film he finds himself becoming more and more attached to her. The 12-year old is determined to become a killer (or cleaner as it is referred to in the film) in order to wreak revenge on Oldman and his DEA crew.

“Leon” is a film that falls between two stools. It opens with Leon accepting a contract from Tony (Aiello) and carrying it out ruthlessly thus giving you a fair idea of his chatacter. The film then goes to rather obvious lengths to show the other side of this vicious man; a quiet, caring, misunderstood everyman. When he saves Mathilda’s life from the killers who have wiped out her family, he seems reluctantly happy to express his other side to someone else.

It’s hard to really understand the characters; their boundaries are rather unclear. Mathilda is a driven child who rather oddly wants to kill people for a living; Tony is Leon’s closest friend (and employer) but it is doubtfuil that he can really be trusted; Oldman is a dirty DEA cop, whose actions defy logic. Infact the whole basis of the killing of Mathilda’s family lacks logic; there is no way a cop could get away with blowing an entire family away. And the manpower he hires to take one man out has to be seen to be believed.

So is the film a thriller, a love story, a character analysis? I don’t really know. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie because it isn’t but there is just not enough happening for it to be a thriller, a rather uneven feel for a love story and too much confusion for a character analysis.


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