Léon: The Professional Reviews
The film has vast contents, enough to analyze them with great care. The balance between its elements shows a both hard and captivating visceral experience, because of Besson's ability to generate intrigues wrapped in sentimentality, which at the same time demonstrates a high creative potential to move and simultaneously perturb with depth who with appreciation is absorbed by the premise which is maintained, being points that favor the feature film but are still not enough to prevent it from succumbing.
The story takes its first steps once Leon (Jean Reno) is shown as a character who is paid to do the dirty job of the boss for which he works. He is a murderer, but he not only kills people, he also sends charges. He lives alone in a small apartment in Manhattan and devotes himself primarily to work. He also cleans his weapons that he keeps in an old case, takes care of his beloved plant, and drinks two quarts of milk daily. He has as neighbors, a family whose father owes a debt to the DEA superior named Stansfield (Gary Oldman) and after an attack on this place, the youngest daughter Mathilda (Natalie Portman) arrives at the house of Leon seeking asylum desperately.
As in "La Femme Nikita", Besson is based on his obsessive desire to see women who from their marginal situation, little protection, and a fragile defense, determine themselves in the search of being killers. The difference with this film is that Nikita suffers from a gradual and incredible transformation that allows an ambitious character-study of how she and her environment enter into struggle, being her story much clearer and landed, because in the case of Mathilda, the subjects are often isolated and their center of gravity is inhospitable and unsustainable. Nikita is solid while Mathilda... well, she's a girl, but does her character really reflect it?
Besson's intentions are evident, and it is to him from whose goals and longings I essentially attribute to the little integration with which the story is presented. Firstly, this was about his first realization in the United States. The prospect with which he is situated in New York is more as if he had sought the European in this hectic place, and when he found it, did not let go, he adapted all. From this comes what I see as an idea of bringing the fantasies of his mind to their transcription into the material. The result is unusual, dimly credible, and unsatisfactorily assimilable. Besson's chimeras regarding the police and thriller genre are anything but that. The softest of "The Professional" is his plot. The concepts are excellent and the script has admirable details that will hardly come out of my memories. But who says it? Mathilda is a child, but her role is that of a woman with 30 years or more. I find it hard to see her as a non-fictional character, because her innocence is obscured almost all the time and when she leaves it, it seems that Besson forces situations and dialogues. On the other hand, Leon is a character as serious as James Bond, but as crystalline as a little baby. This does not mean that by his apparent strength, he cannot show himself as a sensible person. But in this case, both things seem inconclusive. A key moment for the relationship of these two to narrow, seeing each as protectors, as teachers of each other and as intimates, is when Leon asks Mathilda to leave his house, but she refuses. The explanation given is as follows:
Leon: "I even saved your life yesterday right outside the door"
Mathilda: "Right, so now you're responsible for it. If you saved my life you must've saved it for a good reason. If you throw me out now, it's like you never opened your door. Like you let me die right there in front of it. But you did open it, so... If you don't help me, I'll die tonight, I can feel it and I don't want to die tonight."
Twenty seconds of this sequence were enough for her to stay in the apartment, and the new relationship would start. This is the example of a dialogue that as several in this film sound so exquisitely attractive that they are accepted as optimal, although in reality they are not.
The fusion of a bloody action story, with the sensitive personality of Leon and his friendly and protective love makes everything look unheard of. The changes between games of criminals and games of children are more an excessive ambition of the director to apply this cohesion, than to really confine it. Once, while in a hotel they decide to entertain themselves by guessing the characters they represent. Where do they get all those clothes? Or when Mathilda tells the hotel receptionist that she and Leon are not father and daughter but lovers, for what does she? Besson insists on introducing cheesy things like musicals and child interactions into a crime film. So, what is the movie about? The fascination of this executive for portraying violence with another face, flops to take us to it and rather moves away from the realist, and the credibly acceptable that he wanted to create, revolves around the absurd, the bloody, the desperate, resulting as if it were a fairy tale.
The story is evidently inspired by "La Femme Nikita", where Reno makes his appearance as a 'cleaner.' It is also based on "Pulp Fiction" by the appearance of a 'Mr. Wolf' who comes to mediate the situation. But it is only that, because Besson lacked to work more his originality to carry out its mission and prevent failure. The director also wants us to see Leon as almost a mystical being, who can travel and do things without any explanation. These acts may be applaudable, but rather wants to deceive ourselves, precisely with this effort I which everything remains as a fantasy. For example, in scenes where the boss Stansfield (detestable, by the way), sends all the police forces looking for only one man and one girl, are these "real" cops acting like that? Or simply Leon is so but so good that they all seem to be incompetent. I say it's rather Besson responsible for this.
To say more would ruin the ease of a story many times clever that talks about survival, search and revenge. Reno and Portman extract a fully developed sentimental chemistry. For the first time, Leon has a cause of life, while Matilda discovers a paternal figure and more. The style is wrapped over-perforated in an action film, whose copies of American and European films are so predictable that they only demonstrate the excesses of Besson that fly over madness and that it is not supported by any firm foundation.
If the purpose of a film were only the emotional experience, "Leon, The Professional" would deserve it all. But for a good movie it takes much more than that. 54/100
Una obra maestra de Luc Besson; The Professional nos ofrece una versión introspectiva y humanitaria de la psicología de un sicario, con disfrutables escenas de acción con el propósito de seguir una secuencia narrativa, de la mano de magistrales actuaciones de Natalie Portman, gary Oldman y Jean Reno.
After a young girl's family is murdered, she meets a hit man who takes her in and the two bond over their time together as they develop an odd friendship with each other.
One thing good about it is that it doesn't consist entirely of non-stop repetitive action scenes. Large portions of the film are focused on establishing the chemistry and bonding of the 2 leads: Leon (Jean Reno) and Mathilda (Natalie Portman). At the beginning of the movie, Mathilda's whole family is murdered. Though she didn't like most of her family, the death of her 4-year old brother has a negative impact on her as he was the only one in her family who she cared about. Her bonding with Leon is an interesting plot point as he was one of the only people who she really cared about. The time they spend together made me grow an attachment to them.
Because of this slightly risky choice, however, some people argued that Leon was a pedophile and Mathilda's character was too overly-sexualized. To some extent, I could see why someone would think that, but there are reasons for this. Mathilda came from a broken home where she had a burning hatred towards most of her family members. Leon was one of the only people that she cared for. Also, since she was 12, she was probably just starting to go through puberty and was just starting to discover her sexual feelings towards others. She even admitted to Leon that she was (or thought she was) falling in love with him. Despite her efforts to flirt with him, Leon thankfully refused her attempts and he chose to love her more as a father than to actually share a romance with her. I don't agree with these arguments that much and I think that the movie handled that plot point in the most appropriate way it could.
Also, the acting is really great in this film. Most people usually mention how Natalie Portman gave a fantastic performance and I agree with that. It's hard to find a really good child actor in most films, but she was exceptional in her role. Even though I felt like she was a little annoying at times, those few scenes did not break all of the other scenes she was in where she was able to show different emotions very convincingly. She was able to go from a frightened young child to someone capable of killing so convincingly, it makes her relationship with Leon more realistic and plausible.
Jean Reno gave an intense and solid performance too. None of his lines were ever cringeworthy and his face conveys a great myriad of numerous emotions and great sensitivity which in a way, made the action scenes slightly better. He did a good job in the movie, but I don't think that enough credit is going to Gary Oldman. Gary Oldman as Stansfield gave an exceptional role as the villain. He is able to look threatening just at the sight of him. Every time he's on screen, you feel a sense of uneasiness and a sense that something bad is about to happen. In one of the scenes when he confronts Mathilda in the bathroom, that scene is very tense not just because of the most obvious reason, but because his performance gives the scene quite an unnerving feel to it. All 3 of them expertly carried the movie and I can't think of any other actors or actresses who would better fit their roles.
Unfortunately, however, like many other action movies I've seen, I felt that one viewing was enough for me. At its core, it is a pretty genuine action movie and I felt like it didn't provide enough that made me want to revisit it for future viewings since I was already aware of what happened in it. My reason for this has a lot to do with the fact that I wasn't too engaged by its action scenes. "Mad Max: Fury Road" has extremely absorbing action so I wanted to revisit that one after I watched it, but I can't say the same about this one. Is this point subjective? Yes, but I can't help the fact that I feel this way.
In conclusion, this was a very great movie. I do feel like one viewing is enough for me, but that's not to say that it's a bad movie by any means. It contains original and interesting plot points, characters which I cared for, and outstanding acting performances for the 3 main leads. It is a great movie, and I'm glad that I checked it out. I can understand why so many people like this film.