Leon

  • USA Léon: The Professional (more)
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The controversial and unforgettable story of an unlikely friendship within a brutal and violent world. Twelve-year-old Mathilda lives within the desperate confines of a squalid New York apartment block. On returning from a shopping trip Mathilda finds that her abusive, dysfunctional family (and her beloved younger brother) have been slaughtered by a psychotic, drug dealing police officer. In fear of her life she takes refuge with her reluctant, mysterious and solitary neighbour. His name his Leon and he's one of the world's deadliest assassins. And while Mathilda begins to teach him how to live, Leon begins to teach her how to kill. (StudioCanal UK)

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Reviews (10)

Stanislaus 

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English I'm not a big fan of action movies, but Leon offers something much different and deeper besides shooting, blood and killing. Alongside the hunt for the bad guys, we get a glimpse of the strange but incredibly strong relationship between a young intellectual girl and a cold-blooded killer. And both of their lives will change completely from the ground up when they meet and start living together. This film excels especially in terms of acting. Jean Reno is simply a likable man with charisma to spare, who can play a ruthless "cleaner" as well as a caring "parent". Natalie Portman was already very talented at the time and her acting can be compared to child stars such as Haley Joel Osment or Abigail Breslin. Gary Oldman has always been good villain roles and this is no exception. In short, a wonderful cinematic gem from France that offers some pretty thrilling action scenes alongside the actors and a strong story. ()

Othello 

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English It's interesting that of the three biggest directorial toys of the 90s, (Besson, Jeunet, Gilliam), each managed to build their own hebephilic magnum opus (The Professional, The City of Lost Children, Tideland), which is quite creepy at certain points, however much the viewer tries to accept the narrative innocence. I'm not saying I'm offended by this, I'm just mentioning for future adventures that this film will one day undergo some clever revision that fans won't like. But The Professional has plenty of other things to admire apart from the main relationship. The first thing you can see in it is Besson's gratitude that he finally made it to the States, and his fascination with the vastness and vibrancy of 90s New York. The battered old flats, the sweaty hotels, the tangle of corridors, subways, and staircases, the wild streets, the clutter, the mobs of people, and the anamorphic lenses of the cameras that capture it all. Even Serra this time seems to have realized he's actually doing the music for a film, and The Professional's "godfather" motif adds an unexpected layer of darkness to this much-stylized film (not least because it keeps bringing the protagonist back to his difficult Italian past). The shot alone when Matilda and Léon go up to the roof of the building above Central Park, the scene opens up into a vast expanse in which we watch that giant city, and dramatic loops swirl in the background. Incidentally, one of the proofs of Besson's early directorial wizardry is that everyone, even those who have just finished watching the film, is convinced that The Professional is an action movie, among other things. Yet it does not contain so much as a single action scene. ()

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Remedy 

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English Besson's The Professional is one of those nonchalant films that very cleverly and imaginatively combines the "old school" with new techniques and together manage to create a fabulous work that, in addition to brilliant filmmaking, abounds with "that something extra" – an inner feeling, flair, or simply strong emotional "capital" that I can't explain or define exactly, but I can recognize very clearly when watching it:) I love the fact that even when Besson uses genre elements (clichés?) from other masters (Tarantino, Scorsese, De Palma, Coppola), he manages to combine them just as masterfully, and where the genre cliché begins and ends, he calmly creates a field of his own overlap and stuns with his creativity. An uncommonly well made and sensitive film. One of the best I’ve ever seen. ()

Kaka 

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English After several screenings, it is no longer so captivating and action-packed, but rather a cute and touching film that never gets boring. Even with American action, Luc Besson maintains his European style and it is abundantly clear. The action is beautifully shot, incredibly clear, and the camera is unusually detailed. The backbone of the film is, of course, the relationship between the hitman Leon and twelve-year-old Mathilda. The surrounding world with all its elements and features only serves as boundaries through which the writer and director (in one person) navigate. Perhaps for that very reason, Leon is very far from a realistic action film, but it’s one that captures the heart. ()

Lima 

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English The delicately portrayed yet wonderfully performed relationship between Reno and Portman is flawless. Besson stayed true to himself in his first Hollywood film and Leon retained his French esprit. Gary Oldman's performance as a psychopathic thug and lover of classical music is unforgettable. Eric Serra also outdid himself and created a lovely soundtrack (he forgot about it again in The Fifth Element). ()

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