Thursday, July 4, 2013

Léon (1994)


Léon is a French film written and directed by Luc Besson  It follows a hitman, the titular character, who takes in a young girl after her family is murdered by Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Léon (Jean Reno) is a very solitary man, he does his work well but is all work and no play. After Mathilda's (Natalie Portman) family is murdered she is saved and taken in by Léon. He reluctantly decides to train her as she eyes revenge. They form an unorthodox bond that proves stronger than one might think.

Gary Oldman is completely deranged, unhinged, and brilliant in this film but then again when is he not? The brilliant part I mean. In the scenes where his character takes drugs in the film, it is surprisingly creepy and amazing at the same time.  Jean Reno is stoic as usual but gives a great performance. He lets us see the many sides of Léon while making it seem like he's doing nothing at all.

This film is famous for giving a tween Natalie Portman her break out role. There are some weird sexual overtones between Mathilda and Léon that are.....odd to watch but thankfully they don't cross too many lines. To fully understand the weirdness, you should just watch it yourself.

It's simply a great action movie that isn't specifically about the action. The stoic killer does have a similar style as seen more recently in Taken, but that's to be expected coming from the same writer. Just a great watch, and it's a nice throwback looking at how far Natalie Portman has come since being a fresh-faced 12 year-old.

Notes:
- Poster image obtained from www.impawards.com
Jean Reno, despite being a French actor, is of Spanish descent. He was born Juan Moreno y Herrera Jiménez in Casablanca, Morocco. I just thought he changed his name from Renault or Renaud due to mispronunciation. You learn something new everyday.
- Director Luc Besson, although perhaps unknown to most, myself included, is a big name in action films. He is a writer for the Taken and Transporter film series' among others.  
- Besson and Reno have worked together several times before.
- Mathilda is a smoker in the film, however Portman is never shown breathing in or out any smoke. As part of a deal by her parents, she was not to actual smoke a cigarette but could bring it up to her mouth as long as she didn't inhale.
Léon is the French title but it is The Professional in the U.S., so Léon: The Professional encompasses both nicely.
- A sequel with Portman returning as Mathilda was said to be in the works after the movie was well received but they wanted to wait until she was older to film. Unfortunately, due to quarrels about movie rights, a sequel is unlikely to happen.