Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Jean Reno (Léon), Natalie Portman (Mathilda), Gary Oldman (Stansfield)
Genre: Drama – Thriller
I had never heard a word about this film until a glorious day my mom came to me and said “there’s a movie tonight on television, it stars Jean Reno and I love Jean Reno, wanna watch it with me?” I agreed cause, sincerely, I had nothing better to do. And yeah, Jean Reno’s quite a fine actor. The movie seemed to be pretty good from the beginning, but as the story went on and I saw the cast show what they’re made of, I gradually discovered the awesomeness of it. I can’t believe I didn’t know Léon even existed. It is indeed a wonderful movie and definitely not to miss.
The story goes like this: Léon is a hitman who lives solitary in his New York flat and dedicates his time almost completely on killing people and taking care of a houseplant. One day, however, his peaceful life is interrupted by twelve-year-old neighbour Mathilda knocking on the door. Her parents and siblings have just been killed by corrupt cop Stansfield and his gang, and Mathilda would have been the next target hadn’t she found shelter in Léon’s apartment. She soon finds out about his unusual profession and asks him to teach her how to kill, as she wants revenge for the death of her little brother, the single member of her family she actually loved. Though not comfortable with her company at first, Léon agrees to her offer and takes care of her. But this task will be harder than he thought, and in the way, this little girl that came out of nowhere will change completely the meaning of his own life.
I don’t know if the plot of this movie, on its own, is particularly remarkable. I think that actually, what adds real charm to the story are its characters. The contradictory nature of Léon who on the one hand is the most meticulous mercenary, and on the other drinks a very innocent glass of milk everyday and sweetly waters his beloved plant. Mathilda’s personality is as contrasting as his, stretching a teddy bear while smoking, and watching cartoons while seeking for revenge. And though both these characters are already interesting separately, the best of them is shown when they interact with each other. The fact that Léon tries really hard to cheer up Mathilda and does the impossible to protect her, the way she makes him spit his milk with her importunate comments, how she’s like a daughter to Léon while he’s Mathilda’s platonic love… It’s the bond that grows between them what makes this movie so touching and memorable. And last but not least, is cruel, evil Stansfield, whose greatest pleasure in life is to get high and kill. His mere presence tenses every muscle of your body, and I have to say not any villain is able to do this.
As I think the story would be nothing without such good characters, I’m convinced that these characters wouldn’t have reached their whole potential if it weren’t for the marvellous cast that embodied them. What is more, the actors weren’t only at the level their roles required, but exceeded it considerably. Jean Reno gave Léon’s character an air of silliness that was perfectly complemented with Mathilda’s brighter personality, conveying the most sweet and noble part of his soul but in not too obvious a way. For Natalie Portman there are not enough words. I had seen the great actress she is in other movies, like Black Swan, but none of her performances struck me so much as her debut one in Léon: The Professional. The scene where se raps the door calling for Léon’s help is sublime, for example. I absolutely buy her desesperation and vulnerability in that very moment. Just brilliant, she portrayed the character of Mathilda perfectly, and I don’t think anyone else could have done it better. And finally, there’s Gary Oldman. Oh Gary. What is Stansfield without you? You send shivers down my spine, with your penetrating gaze, the crack you make when you swallow a pill, the closeness of your body to the people you’re going to kill, with the way you move and the way you talk, and the aparent serenity that hides a monster about to explode. Of the three main characters, this would be the flatest if it wasn’t for Oldman’s amazing portrayal, who managed to make Stansfield one of the most frightening villains I have ever seen.
If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I strongly recommend you to do it, because… you don’t know what you’re missing. Its characters are truly unforgettable, and to see them being played by such a group of talented actors is a delight like we rarely get. ♧
Watch the trailer ↓
– Written by GuadiRC –