Leon’s success is centred around three key performances, all of which have to bring something very different to the movie. This is a film which focuses on violent loss, reluctant friendships and revenge and manages to do so while being equal parts funny and tragic.
The story is a great one. Leon is a professional killer who through being in the wrong place at the right time, becomes the guardian of a young girl who’s family are murdered. What follows is a sometimes sweet, sometimes uncomfortable but always very entertaining relationship forming between the reluctant hero and the young girl who wants revenge on one of cinema’s most vicious villains.
The film wouldn’t work if Jean Russo’s Leon was a rough, stoic and dismissive killer. Russo manages a fine balance between cold and effective when doing his job and tame and unassuming when interacting with the young girl, Mathilda. He is out of his depth, uncomfortable in almost any social situation and Russo manages to make this funny and likeable, building the character perfectly. There is also a great feeling of security when the character is around and you want him to get hold of the villain and exact Mathilda’s revenge when he can get a chance.
Mathilda is played by a superb Natalie Portman. She is young in this movie but manages to play a character who is old beyond her years, talks like an adult with little understanding but can revert back to a child when it matters the most. Her interactions with Russo’s Leon work so well, be it bringing out his sillier side or working alongside him, training to be a killer just like him.
The final key performance is Gary Oldman’s. Oldman plays the villain and is as extreme and violent as he can be. Oldman almost plays it to a cartoonish level but the character’s actions stop it just short of there. He is psychotic and it is clear that Oldman is having fun playing the bad guy, from shouting orders, his unpredictable actions and the small nuances to the performances that make his probably the most interesting person in the whole movie.
Writer and Director Luc Besson manages to hold together the film well considering the many different aspects which make up the compelling story. It is a violent movie and the actions of the villain will put some off while spur others to see the bloody comeuppance. It can be funny and sweet and the central relationship between Leon and Mahtilda works very well, even at its most uncomfortable. It also feels like an action movie, although on a smaller scale, for the finale and these aspects are well staged too, keeping you guessing right up to the final scenes.
Overall, Leon manages to do so much with a very simple plot. Funny, tragic and action-packed, with some amazing characters, it is a very entertaining movie. The three main actors bring the movie together perfectly and the film will keep you engrossed beyond the finale and into the end credits.
Rating – 5!
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)
As always get in touch below with a comment but also like our page on Facebook (Views from the Sofa) or follow us on Twitter – @viewsfromsofa