Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Film Review: LÉON (a.k.a. THE PROFESSIONAL) (1994)

Writer/Director: Luc Besson
Running time: 105 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

UK release date: 3rd February 1995

Watched on DVD Tuesday 27th July 2010.


As this is my 100th film of the year I decided I would watch one of my all-time favourites. I have not seen Leon in quite a few years and so it was nice to become reacquainted with this classic. It’s not perfect, I know, but, to me, it will always be one of Luc Besson’s best.

Leon is a loner and a hit-man; he lives in an apartment in New York next door to the twelve year old Mathilda and her family. He gets his work from Italian mob boss, Tony. Mathilda’s father is into some shady drug dealings that land him in trouble with the rather psychotic Stansfield and his gang. She is out getting groceries when Stansfield calls and shoots her entire family. On returning she takes refuge in Leon’s apartment. Despite initial reservations, Leon takes her in and they move to a hotel. Mathilda swears revenge on the killers, mainly because one of the victims was her four-year-old brother. She asks Leon to teach her to do what he does for a living. Leon teaches her the basics and the pair grows closer as they learn to live with each other. Mathilda teaches him to read and he begins to not feel quite so lonely any more. On a visit to her former home Mathilda learns just who Stansfield is and what he does for a living. This is where things really get interesting, and this is where I will end my short synopsis.

This is a really well made film with a great soundtrack, there are a couple of songs, but the original score is great. As with all the Luc Besson films I’ve seen there is always an element of humour in the main characters and this is no different. Tremendous performances from both Jean Reno as Leon and Natalie Portman as Mathilda. Gary Oldman is his usual ‘over the top’ self as the psychotic Stansfield and Danny Aiello is also very good as Tony.

I really engaged with the characters of Leon and Mathilda. You really believe that what they feel for each other is true. There is always a certain sense of style about a Luc Besson film, something I have not seen in the films of any other director. As I said at the beginning, this film is not perfect, but it will always be one of my favourites. It still stands up fifteen years after its release. For me: always recommended.

My score: 8.5/10

IMDb Site: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0110413/
Trailer: http://uk.imdb.com/rg/VIDEO_PLAY/LINK/video/screenplay/vi2744254745/

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