#7: Leon, The Professional — dir. Luc Besson
There’s a time where I thought Luc Besson was my spirit animal. The dude is legitimately insane. And his films are always this mishmash of tragic, flawed female characters who kick ass, sensitive male characters who try to save everyone and who kick ass, and Batshit Gary Oldman. At least my favorite ones are.
Telling people you love The Professional merits the same cock-eyebrow as when you tell them your favorite novel is Lolita. Most people get that whiff of pedophilia. And I’m just like, “But have you actually read/seen it?” Lolita is poetic fireworks, taking something uncomfortable but true and doing gymnastics around your brain. The Professional, the original French version, is way more sexualised and uncomfortable. Mathilda genuinely tries throwing herself at Leon, because she doesn’t understand what love means. And she wants revenge.
But ultimately, it just comes down to the simple recipe of Luc Besson. The acting is so much fun. And while I like Portman’s skanky puppydog Mathilda, and I really enjoy Jean Reno’s whispering assassin, it’s Gary Oldman as Stansfield. Every time I see a villain in an action movie, I immediately want them to be one of three things: 1) Hans Gruber, 2) Stansfield, or 3) something equally as cool. Heath Ledger as The Joker was equally as cool. None of the others manage. Whether it’s the actor or the role as written, no one can get there these days.
Also, it’s very sad and beautiful and violent and awesome. And Besson keeps cranking out crazy bananas action, whether for good or for worse.