Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Leon: The Professional

A twelve year old Mathilda (Natalie Portman) living in the slums of New York with an abusive father that works for drug dealers and a mother that doesn’t care much for her children. This sordid lifestyle of drugs and violence is none the less the norm to Mathilda. Her only close bond with her family is her younger four year old brother and a mysterious next door neighbour Leon (Jean Reno). Upon returning home from an errand Mathilda discovers that her family including her brother has been brutally killed in a raid by corrupted DEA agents led by her father’s drug dealing boss the psychotic and also corrupt head DEA agent Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Mathilda realizes that if the DEA agents discover that she also lives there they’d kill her. Holding the tears back she walks to her secretive neighbour’s door. Reluctant to open the door at first but then finally he does. Mathilda discovers that Leon is no ordinary cleaner but rather a professional assassin, working for an old time friend and mob kingpin based in Little Italy Tony (Danny Aiello). Wanting to avenge her brother, Mathilda wants to learn the tricks of the trade of being a professional assassin and makes a deal with Leon to become his protégée. In exchange for working as an actual cleaner and domestic servant, hoping to learn to be a hitman and finally kill the men who took her brother’s life. As live and work together the two begin a strange affection for one another and Leon’s outlook on life and his career begin to change.

Luc Besson’s Leon The Professional is a visually beautiful and yet thrillingly stylish take on violence is one of only 90’s era films that truly pulls it off and still till this day stands alone as one of the only films that touches on taboo topics. Leon the Professional has a brilliantly unique way of portraying New York in a light of; corruption, drugs, crime, broken home and violence and still Besson’s visual style doesn’t portray New York into a dark melancholic gritty look but rather a sunny heat wave of 1994. It’s a fantastic combination of the hotter the weather the more violence we are subjected to. The dark side to Leon The Professional is the plagued presumption that Besson put a twelve year old girl in an action film who falls in love with a hitman with a sharply dressed drug addict villain. All the ethical alarms are ringing here but in all honestly if Mathilda was older the film would never have changed so there wouldn’t much point in making her older.

"No Women, No kids, That's The Rules."
The really dark side of The Professional is the constant stigma of Leon falling in love with Mathilda. In my opinion I believe that Mathilda did fall in love with Leon in the conventional way of man and women but Leon loved her as a daughter and not in any sexual way. The theory of Sigmund Freud that every daughter wants to be with a man like their father plays a role in Leon The Professional. Leon fell in love with Mathilda because she showed him a life that he never lived before and her free spirit attitude to life changed him from a ruthless assassin to a protecting father. In the deleted scenes you get a better understanding of the relationship having more interactions and talking about the love interest between Leon and Mathilda rather than just hinting and leaving it to the imaginations of the audience which more obviously more vivid. These deleted scenes show how Leon played the role as a father figure, how Mathilda shadowed Leon on his contract hits and explicitly demonstrating how to kill someone.  Leon The Professional stands alone as a very unique drama and possibly the only action film that would ever dare to dwell into this topic.

Deleted Scene of Mathilda Shadowing Leon

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