Leon: The Director’s Cut

DVDfever.co.uk – Leon: The Director’s Cut Blu-ray review Dom Robinson reviews

Leon: The Director’s Cut If you want a job done well hire a professional.
Distributed by
Optimum Home Entertainment Blu-ray:

DVD:

  • Cert:
  • Running time: 133 minutes
  • Year: 1994
  • Cat no: OPTBD1642
  • Released: September 2009
  • Region(s): 2, PAL
  • Chapters: 12 plus extras
  • Picture: 1080p High Definition
  • Sound: DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
  • Languages: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Technovision)
  • 16:9-Enhanced: Yes
  • Macrovision: Yes
  • Disc Format: BD50
  • Price: £24.99 (Blu-ray); £12.99 (DVD)
  • Extras: Theatrical Version, 10 Year Retrospective, Natalie Portman: Starting Young, Jean Reno: The Road to Leon, Trailer
  • Vote and comment on this film: View Comments

    Director:

      Luc Besson

    (Angel-A, Arthur and the Invisibles, Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard, Arthur and the Two Worlds War, Atlantis, The Big Blue, The Fifth Element, The Last Combat, Leon, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, Nikita, Subway)

Producer:

    Patrice Ledoux

Screenplay:

    Luc Besson

Music:

    Eric Serra

Cast :

    Leon: Jean Reno
    Mathilda: Natalie Portman
    Stansfield: Gary Oldman
    Tony: Danny Aiello
    Malky: Peter Appel
    Benny: Keith A. Glascoe
    Blood: Willi One Blood
    Mathilda’s Father: Michael Badalucco
    Mathilda’s Mother: Ellen Greene
    Fatman: Frank Senger


Leon is a hitman, a professional killer with no equal. That much is clear to see from the opening scene. If there’s a chance you happen to come across him, it will most likely be your last. He’s precise and he’s sure. He seems to have little else in his life apart from his plant and classic films.

Mathilda (Natalie Portman, making her feature film debut here) is a young girl, suffering at the hands of her abusive foster family, and lives in an adjacent flat with her brother, but clearly knows nothing about her neighbour’s occupation. Her foster father is involved with storing drugs and other corrupt activities for local bad guy Stansfield (Gary Oldman), who just also happens to be in the police. He is NOT a man you want to double-cross. So when he gives him 24 hours to come up with an explanation as to why his latest batch of dope is 90% pure instead of the full 100%, you know what’s going to come.

Leon ends up befriending Mathilda after some brief, chance meetings. She nips out to get some shopping for her family and also some milk for Leon, the last part being the only brightness to her day because he’s the only person who will talk to her and treat her with respect. While she’s out, Stansfield returns…

Unable to go back to life as it was, she insists on staying with him and for him to teach him how to be a ‘cleaner’, her ultimate aim being on getting revenge on Stansfield because amongst all the bloodshed, her younger brother became a casualty. In return, she’ll help clean his flat and teach him how to read. Before Mathilda, all he had to care about was his pot plant, but she does begin to take a slightly unhealthy interest in him for a girl of 12, because she’s young and impressionable. He knows not to take advantage, though.

Leon is an example of absolute perfection in a film. Not only for the way Besson films it, or Eric Serra’s incidental music, but for the cast. Besson-regular Jean Reno excels as the silent killer, while Natalie Portman was a revelation in her first major role, and clearly she’s gone on to have a fantastic and varied career, one of my favourite films of hers being when she appeared alongside Zach Braff and Peter Sarsgaard in Garden State. Naturally, Danny Aiello provides great support on occasion as bar owner Tony, and friend to Leon, but the cast is topped off brilliantly by the inclusion of Gary Oldman in an outstanding performance as Stansfield, a man who is clearly several sandwiches short of a picnic.

This new release is not only the first time the film has appeared on Blu-ray, but also contains both the theatrical and director’s cuts, the latter fleshing out the story more including additional scenes where Leon teaches Mathilda the tricks of the trade.


For the most part, the picture is nicely detailed throughout and reflects well Luc Besson’s sharp eye for direction, filling the image with his 2.35:1 anamorphic vision, whether it’s the close-ups of any of the key cast’s faces or the glorious New York locations. Like the Subway release, there’s occasionally some shimmering that’s mostly notable in the black sections of the image, while at other times it just looks a rather hazy print. It doesn’t happen as often as in Subway but it does make me wonder why it’s there. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.

The sound is in DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio and it’s not only without fault for the sound of gunfire, and also everything that happens in the last 20 minutes or so – which I won’t spoil here, but the intense background music that plays throughout most otherwise-quiet dramatic scenes.

The extras are as follows:

  • 10 Year Retrospective (25:09): Split into 3 chapters, various cast and crew members talking about how the film came together with clips from the film in their original ratio also included (as is the same in the rest of the extras), including the fact that the character of Leon was seen as a spin-off from Reno’s character in Nikita, and Besson’s ex, Maïwenn Le Besco, tells she was 12 when she first met him and then later fell in love with him. He’s 17 years old than her so she explains how she can understand the relationship between Mathilda and Leon with her love for him.

  • Natalie Portman: Starting Young (13:49): Natalie Portman talks about her first film experience.

  • Jean Reno: The Road to Leon (12:24): Reno talks about growing up in Casablanca, Morocco and how he originally got into making films.

  • Trailer (1:48): In letterboxed 2.35:1.

The menu mixes footage from the film in black and white with some of its eerie music. There are English subtitles but the Chaptering is, again for Optimum, appalling with just 12 over the 133-minute running time.

FILM CONTENT
PICTURE QUALITY
SOUND QUALITY
EXTRAS


OVERALL
Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 2009. View the discussion thread.blog comments powered by Disqus = 0) {query += ‘url’ + i + ‘=’ + encodeURIComponent(links[i].href) + ‘&’;}}document.write(”);})();//]]]]>]]>

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