Resolutions 2014: Léon: The Professional

leon the professional

After a brief bout of laziness, I am once again dedicated to fulfilling my film resolutions! Many thanks once again to the awesome Mr. MovieRob for his contribution of Gone With the Wind—a film which I have yet to see. After reading Rob’s review of this classic, I really feel like I need to watch it now. But at present, I decided to review something a little less classic. Or would you call it a cult classic? Whatever the case, here’s my take on Léon: The Professional.

Léon: The Professional (1994)

Synopsis: “A professional assassin rescues a young girl whose parents were killed in a police raid.” –www.imdb.com

leon

What I liked:

  • Léon. Played by Jean Reno, this is a wonderfully quirky, surprisingly endearing character. He’s a hitman—and a damn good one at that—but he does all these strange little things. He only drinks milk. He sleeps sitting up in a chair. He wears sunglasses in the dark. He likes musicals. His best friend is a plant. All these things make him not only a well-developed character, but quite likeable, too.
  • Mathilda. This is Natalie Portman’s breakout performance for good reason. Mathilda is tough, clever, and quite mature for the tender age of 12. Plus, she’s hell-bent on avenging the death of her younger brother by becoming an assassin. At first, she’s something of an annoyance to Léon, but the two develop a wonderful rapport that the actors express brilliantly.
  • Gary Oldman’s crazy performance as dirty cop Stansfield. He’s very over-the-top, but I feel like that works well for this pill-popping, trigger-happy character.
  • The humor. This could easily become a heavy, grim film, but it maintains a lightheartedness that is very refreshing. For example, not long after Mathilda’s family is killed, Léon consoles her with a pig puppet—a moment so silly and sweet that you have to laugh. Later, Mathilda and Léon play dress-up and try to guess what characters they’re portraying. Hilarious. The film is filled with fun little moments like these.
  • There’s a big explosion toward the end that makes for a pretty epic finale. If you haven’t seen the film, I won’t ruin it for you, but it’s awesome (and bittersweet) for a number of reasons.

leon oldman

What I didn’t like:

  • Mathilda’s crush on Léon. What you think it going to be a kind of father-daughter relationship becomes awkward when Mathilda says she’s in love with Léon. Not only that, she tells a concerned hotel manager that they are lovers. Girl, what are you doing?! Mathilda seems like she’d be more level-headed than that.
  • Who exactly is Stansfield? We know he’s a crazy cop who likes strange pills that make him spaz out, and we know he’s somehow involved with drug-dealing. He’s a great villain, but I feel like there are gaps to his story that keep him from becoming a fleshed-out character.
  • The cops. What the hell is going on with these cops?! It seems like there isn’t a good one among them! They shoot people willy nilly—including kids—and they even blow up Léon’s place while thinking that Mathilda is still inside. Seriously?! The words “against standard procedure” don’t even begin to describe how messed up that is. I found the cop scenes very unrealistic. In fact, the film seems to go out of its way to paint law enforcement in a negative light while celebrating lovable Léon the assassin…kind of messed up when you think about that too much.
  • Is the guy with dreadlocks supposed to be a cop? I’m confused…

A Worthy Resolution? Definitely. Though this film may stumble a bit when it comes to the ridiculously villainous cops, Léon: The Professional is still an interesting story with two very strong leads. I never thought I’d be able to describe a film about a hitman as “heart-warming,” yet here I am calling it just that. I would recommend this for people seeking quirky action films with a little more substance.

My Grade: A-

In the midst of my own blog series, have you guys noticed how many awesome series are going on and/or happening soon? The IPC’s epic Shitfest is just around the corner, Cinema Parrot Disco is going to have a gigantic John Hughes blogathon, The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger is calling for top ten lists, and MovieRob just started a nifty Childhood Flashback Movie Challenge. Stuff is popping up all over the place, fellow bloggers! I intend to contribute to all of these, and I strongly encourage you to take part, too, because it’s all great fun. And, of course, you can still contribute to this series as well. 😉

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24 thoughts on “Resolutions 2014: Léon: The Professional

    • Yeah I didn’t understand that whole. Unless having them move to a different place was pivotal to the plot somehow…? But I don’t think it was. Random and weird, but definitely not enough to ruin a great movie. 🙂

  1. You’ve never seen this???

    THIS IS MY FAVORITE MOVIE!!!!!!!!! (Well, depending on the day, it might be ROCKY if I’ve just watched it again for the 700th time)

    YAY for YOU!!!

  2. Good review. I mostly agree. The cops and Oldman’s lack of character development hurt this one, but it is otherwise very good.

    I even think Natalie’s crush on Leon works, for the plot and the character. She’s 12, and he’s taking care of her, sometimes with a certain platonic intimacy. Even mature 12 year olds are hormonal and notoriously bad at thinking about potential consequences. So I think it very natural she would identify her affection as romantic love.

    • Thanks, friend! And I see where you’re coming from. It makes sense, I suppose. I still don’t understand why she would say that to the hotel manager though. She’s clever–seems like she would know that’s messed up.

    • Hmm. Yeah come to think of it this might be the only thing I’ve seen that he’s directed aside from The Fifth Element–and I haven’t even seen all of that. Just catch bits and pieces when it’s on TV…

  3. I’m a big fan of Leon. It’s a very accomplished film with some striking action sequences, a powerful central relationship story between Leon and Matilda, and the always brilliant Gary Oldman.

  4. Hey Cara,

    Dunno how I missed this review last week.

    I love this movie, it’s really great.

    Mathilda tells the manager because she (as a child can do) is mad at Leon and wants to get him to pay more attention to her since she is in love with him.

    Dreadlocks IS a cop

    The cops don’t acre about the kids because the ARE Dirty cops. You have a great point about flushing Leon out, but I seem to recall that Stanfield and his men knew Mathilda was there, but the everyday cops had no clue (been a while since I’ve seen it so my memory may be a bit fuzzy.)

    Great review.

    • Thanks, Rob! I guess I could buy Mathilda telling the manager to get attention, but she still just seems too smart for that–she would realize that could have bigger implications. As for the cops, I get that Stansfield’s guys are dirty, but as a whole I still found the police pretty unbelievable. But hey, I still very much enjoyed this one. 🙂

  5. Great review. You’ve made Eric very happy by watching this! I should give it a re-watch. And thanks for the Hughes blogathon mention! I should really post an update on that and give everyone my email address to start sending reviews over!! : )

    • Happy to mention your blogathon! Obviously, it’s going to be a huge hit. Pretty much already is! Haha. And yeah I need to start perusing the library for my film! Excited to watch it! 🙂

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