Professional, The (Léon)

Luc Besson

9/10 (melodrama)

This film is over the top, I grant that to its critics. But it’s also magnificent and fun as hell, featuring killer action and perhaps Gary Oldman’s best role. It’s also young Natalie Portman’s film debut, and she plays a young orphan who’s adopted by a professional hitman (Jean Reno) and wants to grow up to be like him. Did I mention it was made by the same guy who did “The Fifth Element”? What’s not to like about this?

Oldman, as the corrupt DEA agent who kills Portman’s entire family, owns this film. Sure his performance is ridiculous, but who cares as long as it’s immensely enjoyable? Question to uptight critics: Do you really think that Luc Besson sat there in the director’s chair imploring Oldman to tone it down a little, except the veteran actor just couldn’t so Besson had to go with the shitty takes? I kind of doubt it personally. Oldman made Stansfield exactly how Besson wanted him: insane and outrageous, and completely unrealistic. Need I remind you people that this is the director of “Fifth Element”?

So you see this film for Oldman and all around solid acting, for being Portman’s first film, for a relatively original story, great camerawork as we’ve come to expect from Besson, and awesome action sequences with Jean Reno killing people in gnarly ways. Besson also has a good taste for music and fits it well with the on-screen visuals.

What else do you need from two hours of film? This is an action flick with a heart, which makes it mostly unique as far as Hollywood fare goes.

2 April 2010

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