Leon: The Professional is a 1994 French action film starring Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, and Gary Oldman. It is directed by Luc Besson, also known for The Fifth Element, Transporter 1 & 2, and many other fun, stylistic thriller films.
Leon is a simplistic assassin living in an apartment across the hall from Matilda and her terrible family. Her Dad’s a drug dealer, her sister’s a jerk, and her mom’s a ditz. The only member of Matilda’s family she doesn’t hate is her brother, who has no lines in the entire film, which I found odd, not that it matters.
Matilda’s family is murdered by the Beethoven-loving psychopathic DEA agent Norman Stansfield. Matilda was spared after going to buy some groceries. Stansfield is a legendary villain, and he is actually considered an acclaimed role for Oldman. You can see why. His antics were intended to bring an amount of comic relief, and many of the character’s lines from the film are now popular internet memes.
Ladies and gentleman, Gary Oldman, (over)acting extraordinaire
Leon begrudgingly takes Matilda in and teaches her how to become an assassin (a “cleaner”). Matilda, in return, teaches him how to read and takes care of his plant. They, as expected in these types of films, form a father-daughter bond.
That’s really all I can say about the plot. It’s pretty great, actually. Jean Reno is very good as always, Natalie Portman actually acts in this film (cough Star Wars cough), Gary Oldman is amazing.
For an action flick, some scenes were genuinely heartwarming. I also found some scenes to be… strange. Borderline sexual even. I don’t know what was up with the soundtrack, which included songs such as Bjork’s “Venus As A Boy” over an assassin training/plant watering montage. My one problem with this movie is the awkward sexualization. Not to sound ignorant, but maybe it’s a French thing?
Leon was partially the inspiration behind the supremely entertaining 2014 Action/B movie love letter John Wick (Which I might do a review on today), and it’s easy to see why. The final 15 minutes of the movie contains some of the most ridiculously B.A, moments I’ve ever seen.
Despite some occasionally strange and awkward moments, Leon: The Professional is quite deserving of it’s cult classic status, and is a must-watch for any fan of action, or fans of the remarkable Gary Oldman.