FT Top 100 Films
28: LEON

Known in the US as The Professional, a title passed over in the UK due to the long running British thriller series called The Professionals. Whilst Luc Besson’s gun happy bang bang flick had little to do with said C1-5 show, it seemed possible that the audience may have mistake hard faced moppet Natalie Portman for Martin Shaw. A mistake I think you will agree no-one wants to make.

Also not to be confused with Leon The Pig Farmer, an hilarious British comedy whereing the yucks come from a London Jew discovering he is actually the off-spring of a pig farmer. KOSHER KALAMITY! Actually seen to be a viable and hopeful British film, Leon The Pig Farmer was like Woody Allen done by Arthur Mullard, the central conceit being as far as the humour went.

But to the actual Leon, a collision between the zip-gun directing style that Besson had essayed in Nikita finding a perfect muse in both Portman and – as the French would have it – supercool Jean Reno. Yet another film trying to convince us that deep down all assassins are just cuddle widdly guys who wants a big huggy-wuggy, it is a stupidly violent film about redemption. Or at least the idea of redemption. It is much happier to play with the toys of the action film (including the remarkably over-the-top baddie) than think of anything original to say.

A mention of that baddie is important I think. This is Gary Oldman’s final bad guy, the one that proved that he had nowhere to go in the evil stakes except pantomime (which is why his role in Harry Potter is so well cast to those who do not know the book). He is a bent cop, so bent infact that straightening would be out of the question. In a film with only three characters, he is the one who is allowed to go all the way and go nuts. It is worth watching for this flappy stomp alone. And it is better than The Professionals AND Leon the Pig Farmer, which might get you out of a video shop bind.