Sunday, 8 February 2009
Film Review - Leon the Professional
Leon the professional is a dramatic crime film starring Jean Reno. The basic plot of the film follows the life of title character "Leon" a professional assassin. He lives in a small apartment in New York's Little Italy, spending his free time watching Gene Kelly films, Exercising and looking after his houseplant. This life of solitude eventually comes to a halt when he meets "Matilda" a young girl living in an apartment on the same floor. After her family is murdered by a group of dodgy policemen she seeks refuge with Leon, who hesitant at first grows fond of Matilda and takes her under his wing.
The story is told in a very cool and slick way. The opening sequence is a great example for this. After the view of City the camera enters a restaurant where we are shown extreme close ups of two people discussing a target for assassination/intimidation. Introducing the main character in this manner creates a sense of mystery about him. We are shown extreme close ups of the eyes in particular in this scene to suggest the seriousness of the conversation. Immediately after accepting the job, the shot cuts to showing the target and what he gets up to. This is perhaps to give a better understanding to the audience as to why he is wanted. As the target escapes makes an attempt to escape for his life, the camera changes to freehand, following him as he is running around. Compared to the scenes prior to this which are all shot at interesting angles and very defined, the freehand camera creates tension and panic. To end this eventful introduction to the film we are finally shown a clear camera shot of our main character of the film.
The director was Frenchman Luc Besson. It could be argued that Leon the professional is an extended idea from another one of his films, Nikita (1990) also about an assassin. His visual style is part of the "Cinema du look" movement which had begun in the 1980's. This usually involved stories focusing of young, alienated characters that were intended to represent the marginalized youth of Francios Mitterrand's France. Jean Reno is flawless as both the cold hearted killer and the caring adult. Natalie Portman who plays Matilda also portrays the dysfunctional teen perfectly. This film has probably influenced a number of films such as: The matrix trilogy (The cool and slick execution, long jackets with sunglasses etc.) and Saving Private Ryan (The sniper rifle scope scene).
This film is as classic.