The Professional

Dir: Luc Besson, 1994. Starring: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello, Gary Oldman. Action.
The Professional

The Professional (known as Leon in its European version) is the tale of a quiet, simple man who kills for a living. Once his drug dealing neighbors are executed by a gang of crooked cops, Leon takes their surviving daughter under his wing and begins teaching her the ropes of his business.

Writer-Director Luc Besson (The 5th Element) revisits the world of professional assassins that put him on the international map with his earlier tale, Le Femme Nikita. With The Professional, he gives a new and fresh take on the genre by exploring a strange and beautiful relationship between a hired gun and a little girl seeking revenge. The script is tight and well paced, while Besson’s direction is perhaps the best in his long career. The action direction is amazingly well done, most especially in the blaze of glory final act.

Director of Photography, Thierry Arbogast, shot a beautiful film, capturing the bustling life of New York City. His compositions are strong and his camera movements during the action sequences are top-notch. Composer Eric Serra provides a lovely score to underlay the film.

Jean Reno (Mission: Impossible) plays the lonely hit man, “Leon,” with such quiet and humble humanity that, in relation to the world around him, he is the “good guy.” He is a man who lives a very simple and self-contained life—his only goal, day to day, is to stay in tip-top shape in order to carry out every new contract. And Leon is the best at what he does.

Natalie Portman (Beautiful Girls) blew audiences away with her Lolita-like “Matilda.” A rebellious child stuck in an abusive household until the day her entire family is slaughtered in their home. With that, young Matilda quickly grows up and begs to be trained by her neighbor, so that she may set things right by punishing the men who took everything from her.

Danny Aiello (Do the Right Thing) plays “Tony”—a local Mob boss who is responsible for exporting Leon from Italy and provides him various jobs suited for his skill-set. Aiello plays “Tony” as a friendly and honest guy, hiding the distrustful sleaziness of his true nature below the surface.

Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), who for me ranks high on the list of the finest actors working in film today, turns in one of his most vibrant and over-the-top performances as a drug crazed sociopath with a badge named “Stansfield.” Oldman plays the baddy with such relish that is a joy to watch, as he callously destroys lives for his own corrupt gains under the guise of law enforcement.

The Professional is one of cinema’s best and most interesting action films and worth seeing by anyone enjoys originality and a good crime story.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
May 18, 2009 6:27pm
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