August 9, 2002

Léon: The Professional (International Version)

This entry is for a Coolidge Corner midnight show - I went to a bunch of them in 2002.
Wow, I just love Gary Oldman in this movie. He's a force of nature, and his barely contained fury, his clever mania, and that summer suit are just magnetic. I am fan of many of his movies, but this might be my favorite performance. So many great moments! Right now I am fixated on the moment when he catches Mathida in the men's room and interviews her. The look on his face when he learns
  1. She's out to kill him for herself; and 
  2. He killed her brother
is powerful stuff.
I have been a fan of this movie since I first saw it in the 1990s. I watched the US cut on Amazon Video last night (October 2017) and I noticed some new moments:
Gary Oldman and his crew arrive to kill Mathilda's family at noon. Already that morning Léon has gone see a Gene Kelly movie, and he's already back in his apartment by noon? I know New York City is the cultural capital of the world, but there's really a movie house that has a 10am matinee in Léon's neighborhood?
It's not obvious enough that Léon lives in three different apartments. After her family is killed, Mathilda goes with Léon and they move into a furnished hotel room, and later, they move to a third room. I've seen this movie many times and visually these three apartments all look the same (they all look very European, but that's a different issue). It would be helpful for the storytelling if each apartment were easier to tell apart. When the SWAT team arrives to rout Léon at the second hotel, their room is at the end of the hallway, just like his original apartment was at the end of the hallway.
I loved Danny Aiello as Léon's boss/gangster Tony. When Léon tells him to give his money to Mathilda when he dies, Tony looks away when he replies "You can count on me", and I haven't decided whether he intends to keep the money, or he's too emotional about losing Léon to look him in the eye. Regardless, I found it interesting that at the end of the story, Tony gives Mathilda the same speech about the money as he did to Léon.


ALSO by Gary Oldman on STUB HUBBY: