directed by Luc Besson
I love, love, love Luc Besson, and I consume his fare with a ravenous fervor. From La Femme Nikita to The Messenger to Unleashed, if he is involved, then it most likely rules (even Taken is a guilty pleasure). Now, as much I love The Fifth Element and Unleashed, I have to concede that Leon, aka The Professional, has to be his finest solo accomplishment. By solo I mean he wrote and directed the film, and what a film it is. Jean Reno also gives a career defining performance as Leon, lone assassin who is perfect at what he does. When it comes to the rest his life, however, things aren’t as easy for the almost childlike Leon. His neighbor is a real d bag who gets himself, along with his whole family, exterminated by the impressively freaky Gary Oldman (Stanfield). Only Mathilde survives, who initially turns to Leon for protection, but fueled by her need for revenge, convinces Leon to teach her the morbid trade. Natalie Portman sets a remarkably high bar for herself, a bar she has been almost consistently able to hit (once again, the new Star Wars trilogy looms like a bane over such a huge talent’s professional existence), as Mathilde, and Gary Oldman’s portrayal of pure evil is wild enough to rank among the greatest villains of all time. The wonderful sepia tones of the cinematography create a grittiness and a fable-esque quality to the film, like a dark fairy tale. Luc Besson, please make a sequel to this landmark film. Pretty please? I’m sure Portman’s down.