Coming to a Limited Edition Steelbook from writer/director Luc Besson AND Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the 1995 film LEON: The Professional.
Leon (Jean Reno) is a hitman living the quiet life in a New York City apartment building and occasionally called upon by a man named Old Tony (Danny Aiello). Down the hall is the Lando family who are about to have the DEA knocking down their door lead by Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Coming back from the store is Mathilda (Natalie Portman), a 12-year-old girl who realizes what is happening in her family in the apartment and walks past.
Knocking on Leon’s door, she wants to be let in which he does. Mathilda is realizing what Leon does and begs him to teach her how to be a hitman. Her goal is to take revenge for the death of her family. A deal is struck that Leon teaches her the ‘hitman’ ropes and she takes care of the apartment. It seems the perfect solution and quickly the two form a strange bond.
That is until Leon is sent on an assignment by Old Tony and Mathilda takes it upon herself to grab a few weapons and look for Stansfield. It is not long before Stansfield is in her sites, but Leon has other plans for his men. Now He wants Leon and the only person that can give him that information is Tony.
Leon knows that he must do more to protect Mathilda, especially when he realizes that Stansfield isn’t about to let what happen go without repercussions. Telling the young girl to go to Tony as the explosions and gunfire break out in the apartment building, Leon has one more surprise in store for Stansfield.
Mathilda now must try and start a new life which includes heading back to school giving up her dream of being a hitman!
Reno as Leon could not have been any more perfect for this role if he tried. Giving the air of a man who wants to be left to himself, Reno gives us that and a lot more. There is a sense of danger to him of course and his facial expressions are frozen but in those eyes are something completely different. The first time I saw Reno was in the 1990 film LE FEMME NIKITA as the cleaner Victor, so I suppose that was a practice run for Leon.
Portland as the young Mathilda is a girl who has seen much in her young life. An abusive father starts her down the road of rage and a trip to the store keeps her from experiencing the same fate as her family. Destroyed but it, she sees a chance for revenge, especially when you have a hitman living practically right next door. She is smart and sassy and yet, like Leon, her eyes betray what is really going on inside her. A difficult performance for a young girl but Portland made is look easy.
Oldman as Stansfield has the opportunity to be as bad as he wants his character to be. That’s the thing about Oldman, one role he can be the sleaziest bad guy out there and the next he can be the best of a good guy. His career is filled with such a vast array of characters (okay, DRACULA is my favorite followed by THE FIFTH ELEMENT as I love seeing unusual roles) and I never would have imagined him as Commissioner Gordon in the BATMAN films but there he was on the screen, doing it to perfection. As Stansfield he is the worst of the bad guys and I loved every moment of it.
Aiello as Tony has a history with Leon since he was practically a boy and there definetly was schooling of a different kind for him. Aiello is another actor that has left an indelible impression on my movie going heart and seeing him once again as Tony reminded me of why that it.
Other cast include Peter Appel, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Joseph Malerba, Maiwenn, George Martin, Jean-Hugues Anglade and Keith A. Glascoe as Benny.
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The Bluray Special Features include Cast and Crew Look Back, Jean Reno: The Road to Leon, Natalie Portman: Starting Young, Fact Track (Extended Version) and Theatrical Trailer. Both the 4K Ultra H and Bluray include both theatrical and extended version of the film.
Having the Steelbook of LEON: The Profession is cooler than anything with fantastic artwork on the outside, especially the back with a very vulnerable looking young Portman. Inside are the two discs that are tucked nicely into the book making sure nothing happens to one of the most fantastic films made by writer/director Besson.
Tis the season so ask Santa to stuff your stocking with a steelbook to remember.
In the end – if you want the job done right hire a professional!