LÉON: The Professional
Now, before I get into the review of "LÉON: The Professional", let me please make note that this is the Uncut International Version that restores 24 minutes of additional footage that radically helps to pad out the relationship between Léon (Jean Reno) and Mathilda (Natalie Portman). With that out of the way, I am honored to be able to review "LÉON" for DVDTalk.
Léon is a professional "cleaner" (slang for hitman). Being an immigrant from Italy who hasn't adopted to American culture, Léon lives alone, save for a potted plant he meticulously takes care for. Despite being a so-called "cold blooded killer", Léon is an extremely sympathetic figure, lacking anyone in his life he can love, or even call his friend. Mathilda is a 12-year-old girl who lives in the same apartment building as Léon. Her abusive father runs drugs for a crooked DEA boos, Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Despite living a few doors down from each other, Mathilda and Léon rarely ever exchange a meaningful word … even when she is covered in bruises smoking a cigarette in the stairwell.
Some have said that "LÉON: The Professional" marks the pinnacle of Luc Besson's body of work. For those out there that feel that way, I whole-heartedly agree with you, but am willing to take it a step further. I, for one, feel that "LÉON" marks the pinnacle of Gary Oldman's mesmerizing career. As the viscously tired, pill-popping Norman Stansfield, Oldman plays one of the most memorable characters I have yet to see. Along with his "zest" for eliminating anyone who crosses him, his violent obsession with classical music is among one of the cooler traits a villain has ever possessed, as. Trust me, Gary Oldman is gold here. The same also goes for Natalie Portman, who at only 12-years-old, possesses the talent that most adult actors could ever dream of having.
While out getting groceries for her family, the DEA, lead by Stansfield breaks into Mathilda's residence, and murders her family… including her 4-year-old brother. Knowing something is terribly wrong as she walks towards her apartment, she walks past it, and knocks on Léon's door. After thinking about it for a few minutes, Léon opens his door and takes her in (this is one of the strongest scenes in the movie). In the days and weeks that follow, Mathilda and Léon develop an unusual bond, all centered around Léon teaching Mathilda how to "clean" so she can get revenge on the men who murdered her brother.
I refuse to give away any more of the movie. See "LÉON: The Professional" immediately if you've never seen it. See "LÉON: The Professional" again if you've only seen the initial DVD release that lacks the additional 24 minutes. If you don't like it, feel free to e-mail me and make fun of me.
MOVIE RATING – 4.5 STARS (of 5)
VIDEO RATING – 3.5 STARS (of 5)
AUDIO RATING – 4 STARS (of 5)
Next up is the ability to activate the "Isolated Movie Score" while watching the movie. Also, there are "Talent Files" present for Luc Besson, Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, and Gary Oldman.
And last, but certainly not least, are the "Theatrical Trailers" for "LÉON: The Professional", "The Big Blue", and "The Story of Joan of Arc"… Three movies made by Luc Besson. I'm surprised one for "The Fifth Element" wasn't also included.
EXTRAS RATING – 2 STARS (of 5)
REPLAY RATING – 4 STARS (of 5)
Fred (Christopher Lambert) is a bleach-blonde, spiked haired thief. As somewhat of a master thief, Fred falls in love with the wife of a millionaire he had just robbed. He sets up a secret rendez-vous with her, so she could have her papers and pictures back, and so he could just see her again. Meanwhile, Helena's (Isabelle Adjani) husband has his men combing the subways for Fred and the things he stole.
Fred has taken refuge in the Paris subway system, and has met up with a band (literally) of misfits, one of which is a drummer played by Jean Reno, a man who is fixture in most of Luc Besson's films. Where "Subway" ultimately succeeds is in drawing a line between the rich people like Helena's husband who live above ground, and the poor misfits who live just below it.
Is "Subway" a good movie? Honestly, I don't know. Overall, it's a strange movie experience, and has a completely unique feel (for some reason I though of "A Clockwork Orange" while watching this, but they are so radically different on every level). Regardless, this may be worth checking out for Luc Besson fans, but I doubt the general movie going public would have an interest in "Subway." MOVIE RATING – 3 STARS (of 5)
VIDEO RATING – 2.5 STARS (of 5)
AUDIO RATING – 3 STARS (of 5)
EXTRAS RATING – .5 STARS (of 5)
REPLAY RATING – 2 STARS (of 5)
Reviewers Note: "LÉON: The Professional" is Unrated, while "Subway" is Rated R. If purchased seperately, the MSRP of the movies in this 2-pack would be approximately $60. Columbia Tri-Star has made this 2-pack more affordable by affixing a $44.95 price tag on it. Therefore, I'm recommending this 2-pack just for "LÉON: The Professional."