Léon – 1994 – English
Synopsis: After her father, step-mother, step-sister and little brother are killed by her father’s employers, the 12-year-old daughter of an abject drug dealer manages to take refuge in the apartment of a professional hitman who at her request teaches her the methods of his job so she can take her revenge on the corrupt DEA agent who ruined her life by killing her beloved brother.
Review: Luc Besson‘s movie Léon (The Professional) gives us an intense story which is maximized in potential by the casting of the movie done by Todd Thaler. Every aspect of the movie delivers to the audience and makes an impressive overall package. Jean Reno plays a character named Léon who has learned to repress his emotions in order to perform his job as a “cleaner”, or hit-man. His secluded world is shattered by the young girl named Mathilda who lives on the same floor as he does in an apartment building. When she turns to him for help, he learns about living a normal life, even if the circumstances which unite them are far from normal.
The performance delivered by then twelve-year old Natalie Portman as Mathilda is nothing short of brilliant. Her ability to relate to others with body movement and facial gestures is matched by few, she really brings raw emotion and believability to a difficult role. Mathilda and Léon are unexpectedly thrown together, but learn to value life from their chance encounter, and how valuable a friendship can be.
Jean Reno as Léon gives us a solemn and calculated character who sets all of his energy on his assignments until her is given something else to care about. Mathilda gives him the daughter that he never had, while Léon serves as a father and friend to her. Gary Oldman, as the corrupt DEA Agent Norman Stansfield, offers the viewers an amazingly wired and electrical performance which pushes the envelope. He moves the story along by his actions. Oldman offers us a memorable portrait of a sadistically obsessed man who stops short of nothing to get what he wants.
The Professional is what movie-making is all about. Without the overuse of special effects, a large shooting location, or a commercially star studded cast, we are given all that could possibly be asked for in a movie. Portman, Oldman, and Reno, along with Danny Aiello as the hit-contractor Tony remind us that there is no substitute for great acting. There are elements of comedy, drama, and action, and great original music by Eric Serra adds to the energy the film already encapsulates. The most impressive thing about the movie is its story which is basic but is maximized by all the other elements which go into the making of the movie. Simply put, an intense and impressive movie.