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Great Scenes – LEON

There are many fine performances in Luc Besson’s unhinged tale of a hit man with a heart of gold. Jean Reno strikes a perfect balance of nonchalant brutality and childlike vulnerability as the film’s titular “cleaner” and Natalie Portman pretty much set a bar for performances from child actors that wouldn’t be cracked until Lena Leandersson wreaked bloody havoc across the screen in Let The Right One In. However, it is Gary Oldman’s role as corrupt DEA agent Stansfield that really made the movie shine. Popping pills and rocking out to Beethoven, Oldman redefined drug-feuled scenery chewing in a manner that would make Dennis Hopper uncomfortable. While it is true that every time he stepped in front of the camera Oldman delivered a display of unhinged genius, it was the kill-crazy rampage he brought down on Matilda’s family that was his master stroke. Besson’s camera seems to be fleeing from his psychotic death march as he jerkily blasts his way through the hallways of a cramped NYC tenement building, raining buckshot and classical music upon all who stand in his way. Of particular note is the highly realistic looking shotgunning of the woman in the bathtub, which stands as a testament to the fact that, when he is not disappearing up his own ass, Besson is one of the best action directors in the business.

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