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Blind Spot: Leon (The Professional)

One of my blind spot choices that I was very excited about was Leon: The Professional. Knowing nothing much about it except it was the role the skyrocketed Natalie Portman to fame, there were no prior expectations as to what the movie may be. Needless to say, this was fantastic, considering the last Luc Besson movie I've seen was Lucy, and that was a bit messy, to say the least.

Leon: The Professional is the story of two people who find each other in the most unpleasant events. Leon is a a professional hitman who lives in seclusion and values routine. He is also neighbors with Mathilda, a cigarette-smoking 12-year old whose family life isn't what it's supposed to be. Things take for a turn when her family gets murdered and their lives changed when Leon decided to intervene and take in Mathilda. She then decides to become a hitman herself, vowing to take revenge on the person who murdered her family. 

The film is divided into two parts: the development of their relationship, and the revenge plot against Norman Stansfield. While the latter certainly contains all the action, the film lingers on the former, allowing the viewer to see the gradual change of Leon's demeanor and the descend of Mathilda into a darker world. Both characters are given their own set of issues to deal with - Leon having to 'adopt' a child in his routine and controlled lifestyle, and Mathilda seeing Leon as a role model. They have great scenes together, and their feelings towards one another, as well as the awkward moments of it all translate well on-screen. Their interactions seem very genuine even when both characters are coming from different parts of a spectrum. 

Most of the best (and emotional) scenes can be found at the latter parts of the film, when Mathilda and eventually Leon, finally faces Stansfield. While there's really not much to the character, Gary Oldman certainly played the part well, invoking all kinds of ruthless tactics to weed out his enemies. While the latter parts are to tie the film together, it was the relationship of Leon and Mathilda to watch for. Natalie Portman was such a natural in her role, carrying emotions well and has a childlike look in things even when circumstances were forcing her to grow up. Jean Reno was also great, trying to mix a rough demeanor with uncertainty and patience. 

The cinematography work was fantastic, the framing of the characters were on point. The writing was also good, though there were some plot holes here and there, but it doesn't deter the general atmosphere of the film. This is definitely one of Portman's better roles, as she was able to give range with her performance. 



Final Word: Possibly the best Luc Besson film there is. It's thrilling, endearing and entertaining.

Cast: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman
Director: Luc Besson
Year: 1994

Comments

  1. I remember this film. I recall receiving a recommendation for it in high school and hearing everyone talk about how good it was, only to see it myself and find it okay. I remember Natalie Portman and Jean Reno being good in their roles, and it was a promising film at first. It was largely the climax that took me out of it, if perhaps not for conventional reasons (okay really? They get practically every cop in the city and not a single woman among them?) Thinking about it afterwards, I felt like there was a lot of potential this film had that ended up being missed, especially during that climax. I also remember being a bit disappointed that it wasn't Mathilda who took out Stansfield. I think I get what they were trying to go for but they spent all that time building up the thing about Léon training Mathilda to be an assassin and teaching her all these skills... and then never gave her a chance to use a single one of them. I feel like it would have been better if she'd done more than just hide and guard his beloved potted plant. I don't know. Maybe this is just me, everyone else who commented on the subject seemed to say they disagreed and liked it. I seem to be the only person in the world who found The Departed to be needlessly confusing so who am I to trust?

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    1. I might have a theory as to why it wasn't Mathilda who took out Stansfield. I think it was because putting children and violence together was much of a bigger deal before compared to now. If it was Mathilda who killed Stansfield, it might have had a different reception back then. If the movie was released now, I don't think it would be that big of a deal if she does end up being the one to kill him considering the children/violence combination we see in movies today.

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  2. Excellent review! I adore this film. Portman gave such a great performance for someone so young, and I just thought it was so stylish and interesting.

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    1. Thank you! Portman was fantastic in this one, one of my favorite roles of hers.

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  3. I like, but don't love this one. I don't take issue with the same areas that John does, but I just felt ultimately unmoved by this. Portman is rather brilliant here though, some of the best acting of her career. Nice review.

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    1. Portman was terrific in this one, certainly one of her best.

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    2. Of course you don't. Is there anyone who takes issues with the same areas I do? Sometimes I wonder if I'm crazy.

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  4. Leon is an excellent movie. Glad you enjoyed it. For me this is the best performance by either Portman or Reno and an underrated one by Oldman.

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    1. I liked how Reno was quite different here compared to the other movies of his I've seen, his performance was great.

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  5. Such a great choice for a blind spot! Nice review...and you're right, such an endearing film between the two main characters!

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  6. Glad you picked this! I love how this film treated Reno---not being just a badass, but sorry, mentally-ill badass; and Portman was amazing! Most of the time I cannot recognize her as Portman, but when she wore those make-ups, she looked like her. Lol.

    What I highlighted most from this movie is the unrequited love theme. Was it too ironic?
    Great anyway!

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    1. I didn't see this as unrequited as I didn't think Mathilda knew exactly what romantic love is, she did mention feeling it in her stomach. I don't think Leon was able to process it as such either because he always seemed like to look at her like a daughter.

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  7. One of my favourite films!! I think Mathilda is one of the greatest female characters ever and easily the coolest kid in movie history. Her carelessness, indifference and maturity versus his innocent true heart sometimes with a bit childishness make a charming symphony

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