Leon: The Professional is arguably Luc Besson's finest movie. Where Fifth Element and Nikita were certainly stylish in their execution, Leon is more of a character driven movie where relationships over shine the style in my opinion.
The story follows a lone assassin Leon (Jean Reno) who is cold emotionless character and a twelve year old girl Mathilda (Natalie Portman) whose family are murdered by a vicious DEA officer (Gary Oldman) after her step father bundles a cocaine deal. Mathilda turns to Leon for help as she walks past her flat door as the police murder her family. Leon tries to resist taking in the youngster but finds it in his heart to open his door and save her. It is not long before Mathilda discovers that Leon is a Cleaner (assassin) and wants to learn how to kill. The relationship grows and both begin to get close, but Mathilda's immaturity sees them having to leave a few apartments along the way, once for discharging a firearm and then a throwaway comment about them being lovers to a landlord. It's not long before Mathilda decides to go after the DEA officer and as all hell breaks lose it's up to Leon to save the day.
This R3 edition contains both the American Theatrical version of the movie along with the Director's International cut across two discs. In my opinion the international version makes more sense of the relationship between Leon and Mathilda with extra and expanded scenes adding 24 minutes to the movie. At times the interaction between the two leads becomes quite uncomfortable as there seems to be an underlying Lolita type relationship brewing, but things never go that far, instead the characters realise that they have nothing to lose except each other. Leon is a fine movie with some stunning action scenes and beautiful cinematography which shows New York in all its grubby glory. The performances from the Lead actors are superb with Reno being funny and intense and Portman showing the early promise that she is going to be a big star. As always Oldman nails the crazy zany bad guy perfectly adding some real menace to proceedings. Highly recommended.
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