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
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.
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. 😉