Leon: The Professional

June 1, 2010
Leon is one of those action films that's just fun to watch. It's not exactly an intelligent film - though it is smarter than most mindless action movies - but it's not meant to be. Directed by Luc Besson, who's known for creating over-the-top action films like La Femme Nikita, Leon is a blast of fun with plenty of good performances to back it up.

In the film, we follow a ruthless hitman, Leon, with no emotional connection to the outside world whatsoever. He's reserved, quiet, and only understands three things in the world - planting, Gene Kelly musicals, and killing. Before long, however, Leon's world is turned upside down after he takes in the young Mathilda. With her parents and siblings murdered by a drug-addicted DEA agent, Mathilda swears vengeance and demands that Leon teach her how to "clean up". Though Leon starts out hesitantly about Mathilda's presence, the two soon develop a strong friendship.

The characters in this film are pretty interesting and well thought-out, there's no denying that, but they felt slightly hollow throughout the movie. We get to see these people interact with one another, and the bond between Leon and Mathilda can be felt very strongly, but it all just seems rather rushed and hollow by the end. Maybe it's because we're not given enough time with the characters, or maybe this was intentional due to the film's comic book-like over-the-top nature. Regardless, the characters are interesting but lack any true depth.

Visually, the film's pretty impressive. Nothing mindblowing or innovative, but the film certainly has an interesting look to it. As I stated before, the film has a very comic book-like feel, so it's only natural that the violence and the camerawork would also be over-the-top. Leon's style particularly is pretty cool, as he slips in and out of the shadows during his assassination jobs. It's slick and stylish, and action movie fans should get a kick out of Leon.

The over-the-top nature of the film, however, can tend to get a little overboard. For instance, while I loved Gary Oldman's performance, there's a scene where the crooked DEA agent demands that the entire police force be sent to apprehend Leon. It's so cheesy that it's very difficult to actually take what he's saying that seriously. There are many moments like these throughout the movie (i.e. Leon telling Mathilda to "stop saying OK", Leon shouting his battlecry, etc), but whether that affects the movie at all solely depends upon the viewer.

There isn't too much else to say about Leon. It's over-the-top and has some interesting characters, but the cheesy nature of the movie holds it back from being really great. It's a fun movie but I wouldn't call it 'great'.

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