Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Film Review—Léon: The Professional (1994)

Léon: The Professional (Review)
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a stylish, action-packed thriller with compelling characters and relationships."

Léon (Jean Reno), a highly-skilled assassin, reluctantly takes in Mathilda (Natalie Portman), a twelve-year-old girl, after her family is murdered.

Léon: The Professional is a unique experience. The plot is simple on the surface, but the characters and their authentic relationships truly shine. The story follows Léon, a professional assassin—the best in town, in fact. When he's not out killing for the mob, Léon lives a lonely, unrooted life. His life changes after the family of his neighbor, Mathilda, is slaughtered by a group of corrupt DEA agents led by Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Instead of abandoning her, he reluctantly takes her in and begins teaching her the way of the assassin. But, just as he changes her life, she changes his. The film leads to an action-packed climax and a compelling ending.

Léon: The Professional is a different breed of action movie. It has plenty of shootouts, explosions, and blood, but it also has a lot of heart. The focus on character drives the film more than anything. Yes, the plot works effectively as a revenge thriller, but it's the characters and their relationships that push it beyond "just another action movie." It explores an inappropriate—in terms of business and intimacy—and realistic relationship. It's about a grown man who teaches a child how to kill while learning how to love said child. 'Interesting' is an understatement when it comes to this relationship, but it is certainly daring and compelling—and that should be applauded. Of course, the film also excels as an action movie. As I already stated, it has plenty of shootouts and explosions, and it's all exciting to watch thanks to the slick direction. Its crime elements, although subtle compared to the rest of the film, also help the film's atmosphere.

Jean Reno and Natalie Portman delivered stellar performances. It strange to say this about them considering some of the scenes in the movie, but they had great chemistry. Gary Oldman also delivered a sinister performance—an incredible antagonist. The film was shot well. I watched the 4K version of the film and it definitely stands the test of time. The music was also fantastic. The film was written by and directed by Luc Besson. Besson clearly put a lot into this film—and he had some experience when it came to relationships like this. (He was dating a fifteen-year-old at the time, I believe.) Now, I can't say I approve, but the authenticity of this piece of fiction is incredible. He created an action film with brains and heart.

Overall, Léon the Professional is a masterpiece of the genre. It's a stylish, action-packed thriller with compelling characters and relationships. It's a film that dares to be more. If you're looking for a truly interesting action movie, something that will have you talking, this is it. Don't miss it.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some sex.

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