You all know the story so I won't go into it here, but things I noticed this time round:
1. Those characters are just so wonderful - the 'simple' hitman, the wise-beyond her years precocious pre-teen, the nutso dirty cop....all could have easily been stereotypes, but in the hands of Besson at the height of his powers, they become things of beauty. Utterly perfect casting brings these to life too in a way that means you are looking at real, breathing people on screen, not characters in a movie;
2. There is such a precise and clear logic to the film that means unlike so many of its peers, you never start to question 'why did he....', 'how did he know.....', why did she.....'. Every plot/story beat is driven by the previous one and every time there gets to be anything that could be seen as implausible (how did Stans know where to find them? etc), the movie explains exactly how/why and you are left with a perfectly coherent story told in a fully realised world - ok, how is a gang of corrupt DEA cops allowed to operate with impunity like they have? That's not a question that this film forces you to ask - just an example of how the film itself is a perfect microcosm of itself;
3. I really don't like the extended cut - I can see what Besson was going for, but those scenes between Portman and Reno still came across as a bit icky. Thank god this disc has both versions so from now on, the theatrical version all the way for me;
4. The great character play is punctuated by those amazing set pieces - you really get Besson's gallic flavour here as these (the opening 'hit'; Portman's family taken down; the face off in the gents and the apartment finale) all have that extra special something about them that makes them stand out - be it a random close up of Reno's face as he slowly walks to freedom, the utter ineptitude of Stans' team as they shoot up Portman's apartment or Oldman and THAT pill popping face. These scenes especially, being shot with not a hint of shaky cam or quick cuts, place you right there with these characters and I was still griping the sofa during each one last night, after decades of watching this. Awesome stuff.
So much more I could write but won't - the heartbreaking finale, Danny Aiello, Eric Serra and his amazing score......its still so, so, so good. If you haven't seen this then please go and do so, its amazing.
The disc - the last one in the 4K/Atmos reissues and for me, it had the least improvement. Don't get me wrong, the Atmos soundtrack here is still really, really good (Serra's score especially) and the picture quality is just a smidge below excellent, but the film itself doesn't lend itself to whizz bang shooty stuff or gothic operatic scores or shiny, clean as a bell visuals. It probably still is the very best quality you can own the film on, and that in itself is reason enough to own it, but its not the knock it out of the park improvement that even I could see the others being - I have seen some caps that suggest the contrast on the previous versions was too hot and this led to 'missing' buildings, but honestly, I just got wrapped up with the film. Extras were as per the DVDs really - an odd 25 min 10 year retro (now itself 12 years old!) that took to interviewing people in odd places - the casting director was interviewed hanging off a balcony! Still it was pretty good. And there are a couple of short interviews with Reno and Portman, but there's nothing new over previous versions.
Summary - a stone cold classic that has rarely been bettered in the 22 years since its release. I wish we had more of this Besson (Nikita/Big Blue/Fifth Element) rather than the writer of the Transporter-Besson....... Another great disc (region locked which is still such a shame) as well. It still brought a tear to my eye at the end though so be warned.....
Léon Remastered User Review
A stone cold classic given an Atmos-pheric make overReview of Léon Remastered Blu-ray by Coz22998, May 8, 2016.This item was purchased for $35 from Amazon.com in 2015. The reviewer still owns this product.