Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Léon: The Professional

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.

Léon: The Professional
Léon: The Professional

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.

Jean Reno and Natalie Portman in Léon: The Professional
Jean Reno and Natalie Portman in Léon: The Professional

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?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Clara Murphy

Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is the cop who had it all, a loving wife, a beautiful son, and a job, even though dangerous, he enjoyed doing. When multiple injuries in the line of duty nearly kill him, science comes to the rescue. Rebuilt from scratch, he becomes a criminal’s worst nightmare. As cliché as that sounds, his life becomes worth living again as an organic robot bent on destroying crime without pity.

Abbie Cornish as Clara Murphy
Abbie Cornish as Clara Murphy

Women Who Wow Wednesday presents Clara Murphy (Abbie Cornish), RoboCop’s wife who stands by her man during his darkest days.

This 2014 film, a remake of the 1987 hit RoboCop featuring Peter Weller as crime’s mechanical nemesis, contrasts the original by delving into Alex’s relationship with his wife who ultimately makes the man inside the armor better. A better man. A better husband. A better cop.

Joel Kinnaman and Abbie Cornish
Joel Kinnaman and Abbie Cornish

After his injuries, all Alex has on his mind is the thought of his wife, and if she’d accept him for the new man he has become. Clara doesn’t have to think about it, he will always be her husband. Her willingness to overlook his appearance and go beyond the shell makes her responsible for Alex’s future actions as a powerful crime fighter.

Beyond being Alex’s wife, she’s also her son David’s inspiration, leading him to accept his father’s new life. Through her constant vigilance of David’s welfare, she manages to protect and guide the boy without her father’s presence in his life, always reminding that his father loves him, no matter what.

Abbie Cornish and Joel Kinnaman
Abbie Cornish and Joel Kinnaman

Clara’s role doesn’t end there. Her bravery surpasses all expectations when she stands in the middle of a street, stopping RoboCop’s motorcycle as it screams toward her. For months, she hadn’t had contact with her husband and she wanted to know where he had been hiding. The man in charge, Dr. Norton (Gary Oldman), kept Alex from her, but she couldn’t deal not having access to him. When she stands in the middle of traffic with her hand out, she does it knowing she could lose her life in the process.

The hardest thing Clara has to endure is not knowing. Not knowing what happens to her husband in the care of Dr. Norton. Not knowing if she’ll ever see him again. And not knowing if Alex would be the same person as he once was when they first met.

Clara’s strength comes from inside. Where others would have given up on their spouses, she stayed with him through it all without ever wafting from her center.

If there ever was a character with the resilience to fight back, Clara Murphy is that character.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

If you’ve seen it, what did you think of the movie RoboCop? How does it compare to the older version?