Mar 8, 2021
On the podcast this week, Steven and Sean are teaching our young protégé the fine art of contract killing in the 1994 film from Luc Besson, Leon: The Professional.
If I ever meet Gary Oldman, I don’t know if I’ll be frightened, starstruck, or some combination of the two. He’s an amazing actor and steals the spotlight every time he’s onscreen in this one. He also plays a murderous psychopath who also happens to work for the police. Dude is intense. Gary—I’m going to call him just Gary—is probably a sweet man who wouldn’t hurt a fly in real life, though.
Still, he can tap into something raging and dark. The man knows how to be intimidating.
On the flip side, you’ve got Jean Reno and Natalie Portman playing equally dangerous characters. Yet, I don’t feel nearly as intimidated by them. Their characters mean well, so long as you don’t cross them. I bet they’re probably pretty swell in real life, too.
These wonderful actors come together to make one hell of a film. This one can rightly be called a classic. It’s a paragon of action filmmaking that continues to influence films made even now. That’s a tough feat to accomplish.
Reno plays Leon, a killer-for-hire. Portman plays Mathilda, a young girl whose family (most importantly her younger brother) is murdered by Stansfield, played by Oldman. Leon saves Mathilda’s life, but she wants revenge. He teaches her how he fulfills his contracts. Things get, shall we say, dicey when Stansfield figures out who’s after him.
Yes, this film is problematic. We’ll be among the first to say it. The relationship between Mathilda and Leon is creepy at best. Does anything extremely untoward happen onscreen? No, but that doesn’t change the fact that the film depicts a twelve-year-old falling in sexually charged, pre-teen love with the man who’s teaching her how to murder people. This aspect of the film has not aged well.
It’s also still a good action film. If for no other reason, watch it for Oldman and all the explosions.
(Recorded on January 18, 2021)
Links to Stuff We Mentioned:
(This is the channel that does all the Super Power Beat Down videos that Steven referenced.)