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Summary: A go-for-broke thriller about a professional assassin whose work becomes dangerously personal. Calling himself a "cleaner", the mysterious Leon is New York's top hitman. When his next-door neighbors are murdered, Leon becomes the unwilling guardian of the family's sole survivor - 12-year-old Mathilda.
The performances in here are absolutely astounding and the character development is top-notch. Didn't really like the "he's my lover" subplot which really knocked down what they set-up in the first 3/4s of the film.
Wait, so Portman CAN act? What the hell? Did George Lucas' direction permanently corrupt her? On the flipside, the normally-great Gary Oldman is awful here. He's actually giving a great, consistent performance, but it's a great, consistent performance from another movie entirely.
This is a very solid action offering; it's not abundant with shootouts, but it feels more grounded than most action movies, and it has better plot and character development than many of them as well. Gary Oldman's insane druggie cop makes it worth viewing alone, and the opening scene is completely badass. Reno is even better.
Sleek, cool, and wildly entertaining with some of the most amusing performances (a surprising tenderness from Reno, a vulnerable precociousness from Portman, and manic insanity from Oldman). In terms of substance and depth, though, it lacks a bit.
A decent plot, but it is the performances that make this film. Reno is great as a plant loving, milk drinking hitman and Oldman is good as a crazy, corrupt DEA agent, and of course there is Portman in a wonderful first performance. The revenge story is pretty good also.
"Léon" is quite a mess. It's neither bold enough to go all out with its original premise and offer no fuzzy redemption nor intelligent enough to create believable characters and circumstances instead of resorting to hokey clichés in its attempt to add depth. It's an effective and well-made action picture nevertheless (albeit an implausible one) and the relationship between Reno and Portman occasionally resonates, mostly due to their strong performances. Overall, enjoyable but problematic.