Setting aside the morality of being entertained by a film with 34 violent deaths and, for the moment, ignoring the sexualisation of a 12 year old this is a great film within its genre.Written, directed and photographed by Luc Besson with a lovely performance by Jean Reno, Natalie Portman doing a magical job in her debut role and Gary Oldman being unleashed to chew his way through the scenery the film works very well.
The direction and editing was tight, , fast-paced without being confusing in the action sequences, more relaxed to illustrate the interplay between the two main characters who, in the longer version that I saw, were given time for their characters and their relationship to develop.
Ah, yes, the relationship. Mathilda was alone within her family, apart from her love for her four year old brother. Leon was alone through choice. They recognised each other on the landing of the apartment building (played admirably by the Chelsea Hotel!) and Mathilda reacted to possibly the first adult she had spoken to outside the family. It was natural for Mathilda to turn to the only person she knew for help after her family's murder and natural for Leon to be wary about letting her into his apartment and his life.
One detail that struck me was the shot of Mathilda as Leon's door opened, the distressed child became bathed in light. As the apartment interior wasn't that much lighter than the hall I imagine that was a conscious decision by the director to have alight shine on the actor. For me it was a touching way to show that Mathilda had hope at that moment and I think it was done well; obvious symbolism but done with a light touch.
23 years ago paedophilia was not quite the headline grabber that it is today. I can see how this film disturbs modern American audiences yet the growing sexuality of Mathilda is deftly handled. I also think that she was perfectly safe with Leon, not sure that Leon, had he survived would have eventually been safe with her!
For me the film should have ended with the explosion. That was it, Mathilda's brother avenged, Leon dead, Mathilda alone but with a new skillset. Maybe as an epilogue let her discuss the future with the, to my eyes, untrustworthy Tony. But somehow we got a mawkish Hollywood ending with Leon's plant being "released into the wild" . Hate to disillusion you Mathilda but, if the other girls in the scholl don't destroy it for s*its and giggles the first cold snap will destroy it!
P.S. Was that John Hess playing the villain Leon threatened at the start of the film? 🙂
Had a fun entertaining story, I really liked and felt for the characters, There were a lot of great moments or scares