Movie Review: No 31. Leon: The Professional

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Movie Review: No 31. Leon: The Professional

Mathilda: You killed my brother.
Stansfield: I’m sorry. And you want to join him?
Mathilda: No.
Stansfield: It’s always the same thing. It’s when you start to become really afraid of death that you learn to appreciate life. Do you like life, sweetheart?
Mathilda: Yes.
Stansfield: That’s good, because I take no pleasure in taking life if it’s from a person who doesn’t care about it.

Jean Reno plays the eponymous ‘Leon’ and, if you ask me, there hasn’t been a “sleeps sitting up” character this lovable since the Elephant Man.

A 13-year-old Natalie Portman plays Leon’s sidekick, Mathilda, and together they hit ‘Milo and Otis’ on the unlikely-friendship-meter.

The films opens with… you guessed it! Gangsters. I braced myself for the  worst…

I was, however, more than pleasantly surprised.

‘Leon: The Professional’ has it all: gangsters (shudder), an original storyline, almost perfect casting, phenomenal acting, engaging dialogue, plenty of action (including a “murder montage”), and a “good vs evil” struggle that would tug at the heartstrings of even the hardest of criminals.

I say “almost perfect casting” because I would have loved to have seen Mark Wahlberg in the role of ‘Stansfield’, but I must accept that Gary Oldman does a pretty bang-up job himself.

The film has a ‘Lolita’ edge to it that tempted me to withdraw a pumpkin out of disgust , but it says a lot about this film that the ‘Lolita’ edge proved more disquieting than out-and-out disturbing and, against all odds, I really did end up loving the characters too much to let it get to me.

Besides, you’d be forgiven for forgetting Portman’s age at times – clearly a consummate acting professional of the highest order, even at 13.

Speaking of young girls, this film got me to thinking, “Why is it that young girls are so scary?” They’re often cast as the scariest of ghouls (think ‘The Ring’) and there’s something about Natalie Portman’s character in this film that renders her scarier than ‘The Professional’ himself.

After watching the film, I’ve decided that the reason young girls are so scary is that they are changelings. They can be anything, which means they are capable of anything. Presumed innocent, every little girl is just one bad influence away from pure evil. From Roald Dahl’s Matilda to Luc Besson’s Mathilda, the opportunities are endless.

It’s been a while since I enjoyed a Top 100 movie this much. ‘Leon’ is everything ‘The Departed’ should have been and more. Looking back, there isn’t a single thing about this film that I would change, which I guess makes this film…

well…

Perfect.

10 pumpkins.

Have you seen ‘Leon: The Professional? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.

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