Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on February 7th, 2005
Jean Reno plays Léon, a preternaturally gifted hit man. Shortly after taking down a smallarmy of goons in a high rise, he finds himself having to look after 11-year-old Mathilda (NataliePortman), whose family has been wiped out by Gary Oldman (whose performance goesshamelessly over the top). In between mega-massacres at the beginning and end of the film, wesee the development of the relationship between precocious Mathilda and child-like Léon.
And that is where many…viewers might begin to squirm. The truncated North Americantheatrical release dealt with Mathilda’s declaration that she loves Léon in rather deft fashion (foran action movie). But that only ran 110 minutes. This version clocks in at 133, and if you feltat all uncomfortable with the earlier version, be prepared for much worse here, because thosemissing minutes do not involve gunplay. The picture is thus a very odd mix, what with big actionblow-outs (nicely handled) at the beginning and end, and a very long relationship story in themiddle. Whether that is handled as well is another matter.
The sound comes in both DTS and 5.1 versions, and the difference here is palpable. The 5.1sounds positively tinny compared to the DTS, whose volume is also several orders of degreehigher. Big as the surround on the DTS is, it does have a tendency to be rear-heavy. Still, this byfar the better of the two options.
The opening shot of central park looks a bit washed out, but by and large the colours are verystrong, though they have a tendency to smear and ghost in the dark scenes. When charactersaren’t moving too quickly, the blacks look great, and there is almost no grain. The image is verysharp, too.
No commentary here, though Disc 1 has a pretty thorough trivia track to accompany the film.Disc 2 has a 25-minute “10 Year Retrospective,” which features some very eye-openinginterviews — the woman who was Besson’s fiancée at the time offers a little autobiographicaltidbit while discussing the Léon/Mathilda relationship that falls very much in the Department ofToo Much Information. There are profiles/interviews with Reno and Portman too, each runningless than 15 minutes. Finally, there are 6 trailers. The menu’s main screen is animated andscored.
The action still works wonderfully, and Oldman is a scream. Rather mixed feelings aboutthe other elements, though the package overall is quite strong.
Special Features List
- Trivia Track
- “10 Year Retrospective”
- “Jean Reno: The Road to Léon”
- “Natalie Portman: Starting Young”
- Theatrical Trailer