Close to faultless Leon: The Professional, directed and written by Luc Besson is an exceptional movie with an amazing character build-up and story to match.
Leon, played by Jean Reno, is a meticulous, almost super-human, Italian hit-man professional living in New York. He leads a highly solitary and disciplined lifestyle. His world is changed forever one day when 12 year old girl Mathilda (Natalie Portman- Black Swan, Star Wars), returns home to her apartment building with cartons of Leon’s favorite tipple of choice, milk, and discovers that her family has been brutally murdered by monstrous and corrupt DEA official Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman- The Dark Knight). Banging on Leon’s door for help and seeking revenge on Agent Stansfield, Leon reluctantly takes Matilda under his wing and teaches her the skills of his trade, an unlikely blossoming romance forming. This sets in motion a chain of events that ultimately ends in tragedy for the pair.
Director Luc Besson establishes a unique atmosphere with his directing skills, and brings the characters to life greatly. The acting was superb with Reno, who has an expressive face in which can convey a vast array of emotions with great sensitivity and few words. He is cold as ice as the assassin but his performance is just as mesmerizing when he reveals his sensitive side. In her film debut, Portman turns in a performance that is extraordinary. She manages the transition from a frightened child to a woman capable of killing so convincingly that it makes the relationship between her and Leon not only believable, but understandable.
You’ll either love or hate Gary Oldmans over-the-top performance as Agent Stansfield. Flamboyant in its awfulness, he is truly a frightening individual with infinite manpower and resources to call upon that make him a deadly opponent for the protagonists.
In a way, Leon plays like some sort of tragic, twisted love story where Mathilda seems to have some, but not all, of her vented up desires come to fruition.
Leon is not a movie with a happy ending, but it is very satisfying movie in terms of what it delivers. There is something so carefree about Leon that it makes it an admirable movie in so many ways. Leon: The Professional is top-notch and I would heavily recommend it to fans of any genre.
WICKED RATING: 8.5/10 (8.5 / 10)
Title: Leon: The Professional
Director: Luc Besson
Writer(s): Luc Besson
Stars: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman
Studio/ Production Co: Gaumont, Les Films du Dauphin
Budget: FRF 115,000,000 (estimated)
Language: English, Italian
Sub-Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller