The opening scene to the movie Léon: The Professional has to be one of the best choreographed action sequences ever put on film. Starring Jean Reno as Léon, Natalie Portman as Mathilda and Gary Oldman as the corrupt narcotics officer Norman Stansfield, the motion picture’s visually stunning aspects sets it apart from other cop narratives to demonstrate what a true plot-driven story is all about.
Today I’m proud to include Léon in my Wednesday Warriors weekly series.
Released in 1994, Léon: The Professional became one of the most provocative movies for that era. Beginning with its North American premier, critical controversy followed the film wherever it went. One of the reasons for this had to do with how the violence and language depicted in the presentation may suggest the filmmakers condoned such behavior in society. Another valid point had to do with Natalie Portman’s young age. Some critics found the twelve-year-old’s use of firearms unnerving. Lastly, and again because of Portman’s young age, those same critics found portions of her performance bordered on the sensual.
Any movie critic wondering about violence, sex, gunplay and kids have yet to watch Sergio Leone’s 1964 film A Fistful of Dollars. Produced thirty years before, it remains a classic among film buffs. Guaranteed, a more conservative audience viewed this film back then.
Anyway, back to Léon. Director Luc Besson‘s main character stands on the cusp of little boy and repressed man. He kills without conscience. He does what he is told. And he does his job well. Before Mathilda appears in his life, Léon lives a quiet existence with his plant and his routine. If anything, his daily routine is what the audience relates to the most. Waking up. Drinking milk. Putting out the plant on the ledge. They are the things the audience knows all too well. Everyone’s done it.
The difference with the audience and Léon is he knows how to kill efficiently. He knows his way around weapons. He’s a master of the set-up. And just when the audience thinks it has him figured out, in pops Mathilda, Léon’s next door neighbor from a couple of doors down the hall. Her parents die in a drug deal gone wrong and she’s on Léon’s doorstep asking for help.
Léon’s relationship with his new friend is an interesting one. Although he acts as the father figure, teaching Mathilda how to be an assassin—yes, this really happens—when he’s alone with her, he demonstrates childlike qualities that allow him to relate to her on her level. During one of their fun-filled evenings, they dress in different costumes as a way to pass the time. They each have to guess what the other has dressed up as.
If anything is true about Léon, it’s that he is a sincere man who hasn’t grown up. In that adult body dedicated to the death of others lies a boy at heart who never matured emotionally and remains stunted in development.
Léon may be a brutal killer, but his kindhearted nature toward others may be the redeeming quality that sets him apart from other assassins.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
Have you seen Léon: The Professional? If so, what did you find interesting about it?
27 thoughts on “Léon: The Professional”
This movie is the reason Oldman is one of my all time favorite actors.
hello jack flacco its dennis the vizsla dog hay this film is verry neer the top of dadas netflix kyoo wot i like to go in and mess with wen he is not lukking ha ha ha ha ha but ennyway i am not shoor mama is going to like it but i bed dada is!!! ok bye
When I think of this movie, which I have watched numerous times, I stil get a “kick” out of the little … thing … that Gary Oldman’s character does when he takes one of his little pills. Reno’s introverted assassin is the most lovable killer I have ever seen in movies. Can you think of another such character?
I’m still trying to figure out if he snaps his neck while doing the move or cracks the shell of the cap when he clenches his teeth. Either way, it’s brilliant.
I have not seen the movie but appreciate the depth of character that the main character appears to have, particularly being a sincere person who also knows his way around weaponry!
Totally agree with you, Christy. Incredible character study!
Yep, this is one of my favourites too – great action but also quite moving 🙂
This was a great movie. It was also one of Natalie Portman’s first movie too.
This movie’s pretty awesome. It’s also the film that Besson has been trying to one-up ever since, yet, hasn’t quite come close. Good review Jack.
Love this movie. “Make him understand!” “Do you understand?”
Great post about a classic movie…one of the best action films I’ve ever seen.
This is one of my all time favorite favorite movies.
This is my favorite movie, and has been since it first came out. I still can’t watch the end without all kinds of sadness. A few years ago, there was allegedly consideration of a continuation with Natalie Portman called Mathilda.
Here’s a little bit about why Mathilda hasn’t been made yet: http://screenrant.com/the-professional-sequel-mathilda-vic-74470/
The music is also pretty awesome, too. Love the sequence with Gary Oldman making his entrance in the movie.
Sometimes, I still approach my friends quietly and then hit them with, “You don’t like Beethoven…”
Hoping you deliver that line with the equal amount of madness Gary Oldman did!
Amazing movie, Jean Reno is awesome!
The Professional has always been one of my favorite movies. The fact that Leon himself is so utterly human and understandable – dear God, a hit man who’s actually a likable, real and relatable human being? Say it ain’t so? – is a large part of it. Also, I adore it from a purely technical standpoint… It’s a beautiful and well-made film, both on the writing side and the filmmaking side.
I really need to watch that movie all the way through. I kept getting pulled away whenever I found it on TV.
Good movie. I remember it like it was yesterday. They do not play it much. Reno is the man.
Excellent choice!!! I still remember her going to his door pleading with him to open it.
This is an extremely cool movie. It pulls me in whenever I see it, even though part of me shies away – I still HAVE to watch. Very well done all the way around.
This was my favorite movie as a kid! I’m sure it’s still my favorite even though I haven’t watched it in years.
Reblogged this on Human Interest.
Thanks very much for the reblog!