Archive for luc besson


Posted in Action, Crime, Drama with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/14/2018 by joycereview

Léon: The Professional (1994)

When a friend requested that I review Luc Besson’s The Professional, I was overjoyed. That meant that I would need to watch it again.

One thing that jumps out at me whenever I hear this writer-director’s name is that he’s a lover of strong women – maybe even moreso than James Cameron. Think about it – La Femme Nikita, young Mathilda in this film, Lucy and the key to the universe, The Fifth Element’s Leeloo.

The Professional is the screen debut of a Natalie Portman, who plays an abused 12 year old kid whose life gets changed forever when she runs into Italian hitman Léon. When her family gets killed, she pleads with Léon to teach her to “clean” – in other words, kill, to get revenge.

Besson gets it right at every turn, especially when setting up the opening! The movie opens with bird’s eye view of NYC, pans over Central Park, then a non-stop street view that finally turns into Tony’s Restaurant in Little Italy where Léon is given a job. Seconds later, we see just how “professional” The Professional really is!

Where this deviates from “perfection” are in several, somewhat trivial places. For one, it makes me question his professionalism when he wears his sunglasses inside (perhaps he doesn’t have to see) and no gloves. You telling me he’s been doing this for years, just killed half a dozen people in the first job alone – leaving fingerprints everywhere (especially on the telephone) and hasn’t been caught yet?

A man cannot live on milk alone.

While it makes the film memorable, Léon, and later, Léon and Mathilda, drink A LOT of milk – which has less to do with looking healthy and more about the strange thought of a gas on the job. I would not propose a full glass of milk before OR after exercise. Just sayin’.

Gary Oldman’s character Stansfield, is one of the creepiest of all-time. But it is a bit of a stretch to have someone like him working for Internal Affairs, popping Librium pills (IMDB), and weakly justifying himself when he “flies off the handles.” But that stretch of the imagination aside, his improvisational scenes were he literally “sniffs out” Mathilda’s father, talks about his love of Beethoven, and exclaims “Everyone!!!!” – just brilliant.

I also have to add that, although I own and watch the International Cut of the film, I prefer the American version where the awkward sexual tension is taken out. At one point in the movie, they get kicked out of an apartment because Mathilda lies to the manager that Léon is not her father, but rather, her lover. As young as Mathilda looks and IS it should be off-pudding everywhere in the world – not just the U.S. Thanks Mathilda, you just made your only guardian a sex offender too… and either he’ll get caught, forced to run or kill an innocent man. Obviously they flee the scene – somehow.

All-in-all, Léon The Professional is an amazing movie, great pacing, tremendous chemistry and well acted. One Easter Egg I’ll leave you with is this… the idea of Léon came to Luc Besson in writing/filming La Femme Nikita. A Cleaner, dressed in a long coat, glasses and a wool cap (played by Jean Reno) fixes a botched job. Besson wanted to expand this character and thus, we have this movie, except that he’s now an Italian with a non-Italian name.

I could be wrong. How popular is Léon as an Italian name?

How did you like the film? What would you rate it? Let me know!




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TAKEN :: ACTION :: 002

Posted in Action with tags , , , , , , , on 09/27/2009 by joycereview


taken_ver5Liam Neeson takes to the role of an “ex” super-agent, turn super-dad in this straight-plot, take-no-prisoners, movie o’ greatness.  Jenny and I just finished watching this movie on a night out with friends, and it was even better the second time around!  From the moment Neeson’s character, Bryan Mills, overhears the deathly panic in his daughter’s voice, he becomes an unstoppable force.  Forget Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn… Bryan Mills is a beast and destroys, barehandedly, more people than I could possibly count. [I promise I’ll count next time.  Know the number? Comment below.]

When I saw the trailer in the theaters, I instantly gave it two thumbs up.  When I watched it the first time, I recognized a big reason why it ranks so highly;  it’s a lot like the show, 24.  I found three big connections… one, Byran’s daughter’s name is Kim (like Kim Bauer in 24), Kim’s stepdad Stuart is played by Xander Berkeley (who played George Mason in 24), and lastly, Byran goes to the farthest lengths to retrieve his kidnapped daughter (which happens in Season 1).

I was teetering on giving this movie an 8, but I choose a 9 for several reasons.  The main reason was simply that after Byran robs the first, quick dozen bad guys of life… you come to a conclusion right away that this guy must have been among the volunteers of the Treadstone Project (see Bourne Identity) because, like Jason Bourne, Bryan Mills is a friggin’ machine… a robo-cop of retribution.  Movie-goers love uncertainty, of being put off-guard and this movie, put him in peril only once in my opinion.  Even then, surrounded by 5 men and almost certain death, my heart-rate remained steady and my mind confident that Bryan had the situation well in-hand.

There were several things that put me off and threatened the demotion from a 9 to an 8 and these were: the ridiculous Pheobe-Buffay-like schoolgirl runnings of Bryan’s daughter Kim.  It was laughable but also offered some humor.  I’ve never actually seen a 17 year old run that ridiculous so maybe it was thrown in for comic relief?  But later, I came to terms with it because, hell, some teenagers probably run that way.  And I should probably step down off my throne and not judge.  The other put-off was trivial as well, and that was the absurdly snooty and lavish birthday party that step-dad/mogal Stuart (Xander Berkeley) and mother, Lenore (Famke Janssen) threw for Kim.  A segregation of youth and adults? And moments later, Stuart (step-dad) upstaging Bryan (biological dad) by giving Kim a horse?  Ouch.  But the last and final reason why this movie is a 9 and not an 8, is to prove my girlfriend wrong.  I was deliberating very strongly when Jenny said, “knowing you… you’ll probably give it an 8.”    Why?, I said.  “Because you’re a harsh critic,” she replied.  And since I deem the above “put-offs” rather cheap and erroneous…AND since I choose to prove Jenny wrong,…viola!…a NINE.

In summing up my thoughts… TAKEN scores highly on the watchability meter due to its non-stop intensity, quick and brutal fight scenes and great acting from one of Hollywood’s most capable actors.

Let’s here what you thought of Taken.  The lines are open!!!!