Luc Besson is one of those great directors that managed to stay fresh throughout the years. Although The Fifth Element is the movie that made him into a super-director, his previous effort Leon: The Professional is a much more palatable pleasure. And if we went back even further, to his 1990 action flick Nikita, we can see the beginnings of the movie we are reviewing now. However, I found Nikita to be a far more inferior movie than Leon, mostly because of that mainstream vibe. Leon features phenomenal camera-work and cinematography, with some scenes being so iconic I can recall them even now, years and years after I have seen the movie (like the scene where Oldman is swallowing his pills and tilting his head backwards). The story is relatively simplistic but the characters are most certainly not and if you add to this the pitch perfect pacing, you get one hell of a movie. It plays out like some myth, with older man protecting a young girl who finds herself in deep trouble. The clash between the innocence of Mathilda and a complete lack of innocence with Leon pushes the story forward and this is just one of the elements that you can analyze.

Léon [1994] Movie Review Recommendation PosterYou don’t want to meet a guy like Léon Montana. Leon is a professional hitman, living in New York and working for the Italian mafia. He’s very good at his job but has little knowledge or interest for other things. One day he meets Mathilda, a young girl living with her crazy family in the same building, but avoids any unnecessary contact. However, when DEA agents raid the Mathilda’s home, he will have to make a decision with long-term consequences.

I mentioned earlier elements that you can analyze but I want to make something clear, this is not one of those boring movies where you need that shit just to stay alive. This is just a bonus content. This was a debut for young Natalie Portman and it’s no wonder that she’s now an established Hollywood actress, she was phenomenal here. Reno and especially Oldman were also great, Reno being an old associate of Besson’s was an obvious choice, but the casting of Oldman was fucking prophetic. The relationship between Mathilda and Leon was a bit too much for my taste, I mean unrealistic and too dreamy. I wanted that shit to be gritty as fuck, but that’s now that I’m older. When I was younger, one thing and one thing alone fascinated me: the pulling of the curtain. The shit that this little girl went through hit me like an edible and I was scarred shitless that I might end up in the same situation, without any reason for that, of course. Up until then I still believed that there are rules in this world, oh how I was wrong…

Director: Luc Besson

Cast: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello

Fun Facts: Natalie Portman was originally turned down by Todd M. Thaler (the casting director) due to being too young, but she returned to the auditions and performed the scene where Mathilda laments the loss of her brother. Luc Besson was so impressed with the depth of emotion she summoned during the audition that he gave her the role.


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