Monday, October 30, 2017

Leon: The professional (1994) [Review]

This evaluative essay for the movie Leon: The Professional was written by my friend Elie Tom and has been modified to be displayed properly here. I like it a lot so I decided to post it on my blog.


Léon: The Professional is a 1994 thriller film starring Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, and Gary Oldman and written and directed by Luc Besson. The film received favorable reviews from critics and is one of the best action/drama films of 1994. It pivots around an unusual relationship between Léon, an Italian hitman, and Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl living in a dysfunctional family. The fresh thriller plot, outstanding acting and role performance, and a one a kind script earned Léon: The Professional it’s spot as one of the best drama films of its time and up to this day.


The plot is straightforward compared to most movies of the same genre; the movie is not driven by a plot-driven movie but rather driven by characters. There is no particular plot twist, although there are a few spectacular action sequences like the climax’s police shootout. The film mainly revolves around the relationship between Leon and Mathilda, and how they change each other’s lives.  Mathilda's abusive father draws the attention of corrupt DEA agents, who have been paying him to hide drugs in his apartment. Although Mathilda is young, she becomes interested in Leon and his job, seeking revenge for the horrific acts committed upon her.



The performance of the actors in the movie is unprecedented. Natalie Portman as delivers a brilliant performance a twelve-year-old Mathilda as she is able to portray childlike innocence and raw emotion combined with awareness and intelligence that are years ahead of her age. Mathilda is the star of the film, and Portman is outstanding in playing this difficult role. Jean Reno as Léon delivers a sharp character who sets all of his focus on his hitman assignments until Mathilda comes along. You really can sense what Léon’s character is about from the first few scenes; an extremely skilled hitman who is like a child in many ways. Jean Reno plays Leon perfectly. Danny Aiello as Tony makes you wonder whether he’s a bad guy or good guy. His minor role as Tony was excellent and fits the movie like a jigsaw puzzle. Last and certainly not least, Gary Oldman, as the corrupt DEA Agent Norman Stansfield, moves the story along and controls it with his actions. He plays of the most memorable negative role ever and mixed both fear and sarcasm in his actions at the same time. Oldman especially chews the scenery in a way that's both amusing and utterly menacing especially with his Beethoven obsession.


One issue that may arise in this movie is in the script, although it is one of the best scripts of its time. The love story between a twelve-year-old girl and a hitman would turn a few eyes, but Besson handles it in the most natural way by adding awkwardness in Leon’s script when Mathilda tries to bring up adult topics. There is a breathtaking and heartbreaking scene where Mathilda walks down the corridor past her apartment and knocks on Leon's door to evade the gunman standing at the door to her apartment. You can’t but emphasize with Mathilda. In another scene, a beaten Mathilda asks, "Is life always this hard or just when you’re a kid?" and Leon pauses only to respond with “always like this”. What really stands is the brilliant script and the straightforward direction of the action sequences. Portman, Reno, and Oldman deliver lines that would not be appreciated have they been spoken by any other performer.




Luc Besson's movie delivers an intense story that is amplified with the perfect-fit casting. Every aspect of the movie adds to the unique overall package. Leon: The Professional attained its success without special effects overuse or a large shooting location. Besson's approach provides it with a European look; Paris in New York. Portman, Reno, and Oldman along with Danny Aiello show us that great acting cannot be replaced. One impressive thing about the movie is how it’s basic story is maximized to it’s potential by the depth of the characters and outstanding acting and a one a kind script along with many other elements that go into the making of the movie.



The depth of the characters in this movie hooks you from the moment it starts. Matilda is played with great resourcefulness by Portman, who is required by the role to be, in a way, stronger than Leon. She has witnessed many violent things in her life most of which is through her dysfunctional family. She is wise for her age and this is seen when she makes references to movies: "Bonnie and Clyde didn't work alone," and "Thelma and Louise didn't work alone. And they were the best." Léon who has learned to repress his emotions in order to perform his job as a hitman. His world is changed when Mathilda turns to him for help and he learns about living a normal life, even if the circumstances which unite them are far from normal.

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2 comments:

  1. this movie will always be so close to my heart. it has such a tearful ending and to see such a prolonged essay on it has made me all emotional again

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