Léon: The Professional (1994)

Since I’m still not ready to review The Dark Knight Rises I thought I’d give Léon the Thursday’s limelight and share my thoughts on the movie. First off, I didn’t end up liking the movie as much as I anticipated because I still feel weird about kids killing/helping out in the process of killing people. In addition, I also have not so positive feelings towards Natalie Portman, therefore Léon: The Professional became a good movie instead of a great one for me.

Though it isn’t one of my favorite movies Léon: The Professional is actually #32 in the IMDb’s 250 Best Movies list.

Luc Besson is the man behind the story and the camera for Léon and he is the kind of director I’m more or less programmed to like. I like a man who can write his own screenplay and then show it to the audience as well, though Besson is more known for writing than directing. Still, you can really feel the difference when the story is coming from the director and while the concept of the movie didn’t appeal to me I did like the outcome of it as a thrilling movie.

Without giving a description of the plot, which I rarely do because I prefer it like that, there are three main characters who are played well by Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and the young Natalie Portman. Reno is decent, he doesn’t stand out as much but mostly because it’s his character’s nature to be more of a loner and somebody who doesn’t want a lot of attention to himself. Oldman is definitely a brilliant man in his role where he plays a corrupt detective who also has some mental issues. He is by far the one you will remember and enjoy watching, having that certain drugged out stare and deranged look on his face he certainly entertains until his expressive final word. Portman, well, I’m just going to come out and say that I don’t like her. She might be a good actress, even great at times, but since there are so many great and amazing actresses out there, she just isn’t one of my favorites. Her role though, for a feature film debut, is deserving of a good comment, so I’m being fair and by swallowing my bride, I’ll say she was very believable.

Final thoughts on the movie are mostly revolving around the general plot of the movie, it did seem a very crime filled Lolita for me at some points. We have a man who is a trained killer and we have a young girl, who’s family has been brutally murdered, falling in love with this man. While Lolita did have it all kind of in the other way around, Reno’s character does seem to love her on some level but he was restrained from showing it. Portman’s character was very complex for a 12 year old and like I said, she was believable in her performance, but I myself didn’t connect to her although I would have liked to. That’s the confusion and my certain dislike towards Léon, I understand the angst and the pain, the way she sees in him everything she has lost and looks for love in return, but for some reason I wasn’t feeling the pain.

Basically, it is the matter of emotion and I wanted more out of it. I did like the intelligence of the action and the killing though. Even the brutal apartment family murder thing, though it was messy as hell, was executed with integrity and style which I enjoyed. So the technical and the thriller/crime part was very okay for me but the drama fell short. I’m just listing it as a problem of morals against the fact that kids are used so thoughtlessly in the process of killing. I find it wrong and I can’t connect with it and I mean, Hanna for instance had the explanation of her acting that way, but Léon kind of gave her an emotional background but for me it didn’t work and it’s no excuse for letting a 12 year old hold a gun and empty it on the street.

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2 thoughts on “Léon: The Professional (1994)”

  1. I liked the movie more than you did but I definetly understand your complaints. I’m too not a big fan of Portman either, though I was impressed by how much Aronofsky got out of her in Black Swan. Also – this should have been Oldman’s Oscar nomination, he is just mesmerizing in this movie.

    1. Well, 3 is high but yeah, the kids and killing thing.. I think there’s enough violence nowadays but then again, it was the 90’s then. Maybe it worked in its time!? Oldman was just… god, I love that man!

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