Jean Reno (Crimson Rivers) stars with Gary Oldman (Batman Begins) and Natalie Portman (Star Wars: Episodes I-III). When a psychotic Federal Agent (Oldman) wipes out her entire family, twelve-year-old Mathilda (Portman) is taken in be her neighbor, Leon (Reno), a quiet man whose only interests are his houseplants, movie musicals and killing people. Leon's a professional assassin, a gentle soul who happens to be the best hit man in the business. When the revenge-obsessed waif insists on becoming his protege, Leon reluctantly agrees and begins teaching her the tricks of his trade. But when Mathilda's rash attempt to murder the Fed ends in her capture, it's up to Leon to try to rescue the girl before it's too late.
Director Luc Besson's LEON : THE PROFESSIONAL, essentially tells the story of two characters, Leon, a professional hit man, and a 10 year old girl named Matilda Lando. After Matilda's entire family is wiped out after a drug deal gone sour, the reclusive Leon, reluctantly takes in the girl, who lives next door to him in his rundown apartment building, which is located in New York's "Little Italy" Over the course of some time, the two tragic characters bond, and after some persuasion, Matilda has Leon, the hit man teaching her the tricks of his trade. Soon, she finds herself well trained, which means it isn't long before she's along for the ride, as she accompanies and assists him with several hits. The pair make a surprisingly good team, however, their journey doesn't always go smoothly. With the deaths of her family, including her 4 year old brother, constantly fresh in her mind, the idea of getting revenge urges Matilda to seek out information. Her investigation, brings forth such information, and it brings her to an unexpected conclusion. That the gang of men responsible for the massacre was led by a man, by the name of Stansfield, a crooked DEA agent. In fact, they were all cops. Knowing this Matilda eventually gets herself into some trouble that Leon is almost unable to free her from. Eventually, it all leads to a building showdown between Leon, Matilda and Stansfield, who is again accompanied by his men, who are armed to the teeth, as the film ends with the same thrilling kind of action as it began.
If you have never seen this film, which I consider Directer/WriterProducer, Luc Besson's masterpiece, boy are you missing out. LEON : THE PROFESSIONAL as a film, is like a graphic novel, brought to vivid life. Not only does it have its unapologetic-natured action, and violence, it also has the depth to simultaneously give us a dramatic story, that is filled with depth and emotion. Of course, it works in an action sense, but it works even better as a progressive emotional drama. By the film's end, we really care about the film's two primary characters, which are Leon, and Matilda. Leon and Matilda, we come to find out, are two very tragic characters. Both for different reasons, yet, the one thing they have in common is loss. While Leon lost his only true love, his girlfriend back in Italy, Matilda has lost her entire family. It is something the two share and it draws them closer as they develop a relationship that initially seems a little strange, but ends up being something more understandable. The film builds up this relationship over the course of it via a number of key scenes, displaying signs of awkwardness, immaturity, humor and ultimately, emotion. I have seen a lot of movies, and personally, I feel that LEON : THE PROFESSIONAL is one of the most rewarding films that I have ever seen(and I have seen it numerous times, over the years). It is a well plotted emotional roller coaster that is both pleasing, and sad in its conclusion. Which is something that does not always happen, but that is what LEON : THE PROFESSIONAL is. It's a great film.
Bringing the film to life are the film's performances from its primary characters. Jean Reno, and a young Natalie Portman are great, as the lead the way as "Leon" and "Matilda", respectively. The two are just great together. Reno, who had already had a number of roles before this film, truly embodies Leon, the quiet hit man, who stays to himself. But, although Leon is quiet, you can tell a lot about him from his emotions, the audience can sense that he is man who has been through a lot in his life. We know this via Reno's very natural portrayal. And then there is of course Natalie Portman who was all of 10 years old at the time of filming. It was her first major film role, however, one couldn't tell here, because the performance that she gives is that of someone who had been acting for several years. She brings to her character a sense of believability as someone emotionally lost and hurt, someone fragile, who finds some comfort in Leon. It's a character that we the viewer connect with almost instantly. Portman delivers such a great performance, one that is very memorable. Also someone who is a standout in the film, is one Gary Oldman, someone who is not a stranger to playing a variety of differing roles. Here, he is Stansfield, the film's resident bad guy, who doubles as a DEA agent. Oldman, once again does a great job in character. Here is sort of a vile character, that is somewhat, seemingly void of feeling, as he orders his men to carry out hit, all while listening to classical music an his earbuds. He is the exact opposite of our tragic hero, Leon, but is the right fit as the opposition. All together, everyone, including the film's supporters, work will to create an impacting, and believable epic in storytelling.
LEON : THE PROFESSIONAL is just a good film all around. It's action packed, it's meaningful, and it's tragic all around. I like it the same, each and every time I see it. It's just a great story, with great, and long-lasting characters, as well as moments.
This remastered edition(both in picture, and sound), is being released in 2 different versions, a standard version, and a deluxe "Supreme Cinema Series" edition, complete with book packaging. I was sent only the standard edition, and while I can't speak on the book packaging(as mine doesn't have it - it's packaged in a slipcover, instead), I can speak on the the other aspects. However a critique on the new Dolby Atmos sound mix would not be accurate, as I don't have some nice sound system. But I will speak on the image quality, as I did once own the film's previous Blu-Ray release. Like the previous release, this disc includes both the film's Theatrical release, along with the longer. extended cut. But unlike the previous release, here both cuts have been entirely remastered in 4K. While most won't really care about slightly improved image quality, those who truly enjoy this film, will be able to note the change. As I said, I had the last release, and while the transfer on that one looked good, this one looks even better. The colors are more rich, and the retained grain from the film stock is more crisp, allowing for a much better looking picture. As for the other inclusions on the disc, included is the same round of featurettes that made an appearance on the previous Blu-Ray release. So, in reality here, the only thing "new" is the remastered video and sound, as far as the standard edition goes. But transfer-wise, it is a nice improvement.
6/10 The scoring for LEON : THE PROFESSIONAL consists of a number of things. Sometimes it's up tempo, and then in goes to suspenseful and atmospheric. But what really stands out is the inclusion of several songs.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
As I said above, LEON : THE PROFESSIONAL is a film that I have seen several times over the years, and I love it. It is a film that has great balance of action and drama, with great storytelling, which only further emphasis it. Again, if you have yet to see LEON : THE PROFESSIONAL, what are you waiting for!? I recommend.
Special Features include :
- 4K Restoration & Dolby Atmos Audio (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) of both the theatrical and extended international versions of the film
- Cast and Crew Look Back
- Jean Reno: The Road to Léon
- Natalie Portman: Starting Young
- Original Theatrical Trailer