Tag Archives: Leon

Cliffhanger (1993, Renny Harlin)

Oh, Trevor Jones did the music. I was going to say it sounded like some really good Hans Zimmer (with some plagiarism of Alan Silvestri’s Predator score), but Jones does good work so I guess it’s not a surprise.

Cliffhanger is such a technical marvel it’s hard to get upset about the problems (writing and acting). Harlin’s got a lot of composite shots here and Alex Thomson shooting or not, the technology simply isn’t there for them to look right. But the concepts are all great. Outside the composites, everything is perfect. There’s some astounding stunt work in the film.

Frank J. Urioste’s editing is great, as is John Vallone’s production design.

So what’s wrong with it?

It’s stupid. It’s really, really stupid and it has constantly laughable dialogue.

The best actors in the movie are barely in it (Paul Winfield and Zach Grenier) and even Stallone–who can manage this kind of tripe–gets overshadowed by the villains. John Lithgow plays the lead villain, with a terrible British accent, and basically does an Anthony Hopkins impersonation. However, given Cliffhanger‘s release date, it’s like Hopkins saw the film and just started mimicking Lithgow’s turn in this one.

Janine Turner and Vyto Ruginis have such bad dialogue it’s impossible to gauge their performances. Villains Rex Linn, Leon and Craig Fairbrass are all atrocious. I suppose Caroline Goodall almost gives an okay bad performance.

It’s a shame Cliffhanger has to be so bad, just for all the technical pluses… but it’s inane.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Renny Harlin; screenplay by Michael France and Sylvester Stallone, based on a story by France and a premise by John Long; director of photography, Alex Thomson; edited by Frank J. Urioste; music by Trevor Jones; production designer, John Vallone; produced by Harlin and Alan Marshall; released by Tri-Star Pictures.

Starring Sylvester Stallone (Gabe Walker), John Lithgow (Eric Qualen), Michael Rooker (Hal Tucker), Janine Turner (Jessie Deighan), Rex Linn (Richard Travers), Caroline Goodall (Kristel), Leon (Kynette), Craig Fairbrass (Delmar), Gregory Scott Cummins (Ryan), Denis Forest (Heldon), Michelle Joyner (Sarah), Max Perlich (Evan), Paul Winfield (Walter Wright), Ralph Waite (Frank), Trey Brownell (Brett), Zach Grenier (Davis) and Vyto Ruginis (Matheson).


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Léon (1994, Luc Besson), the long version

When he’s doing good work, Luc Besson makes these transcendent films, but even some of his lesser works often have some moments with that quality.

Léon does not.

Many of the elements are there–but something’s off. Maybe it’s something simple, like Jean Reno is supposed to be playing an Italian immigrant who, apparently, just acts really French. Maybe it’s Gary Oldman’s histrionics. But, while both those things are definitely contributors to the film’s general failure, it’s mostly because Besson doesn’t really know what he’s doing with Natalie Portman.

If the film worked, it’d be a brilliant metaphor about her character’s transition into puberty… it’d be the Iron John for girls, only with guns.

And it’s never clear if Besson even realizes he had a real opportunity. One of the major problem’s with Besson’s films are how simplistic he gets when it comes to human emotions. In Léon, he tries hard to talk about emotions as much as possible. But it’s just talk.

Portman’s performance is excellent–so excellent she gave nearly identical performances a couple more times (Beautiful Girls and Heat)–but it should have been clear she didn’t have anywhere else to go. Besson’s characters in Léon are some of his most shallow–quite an achievement since shallowly conceived characters are a Besson staple–but at least Reno and Oldman are somewhat supposed to be ciphers. Portman’s character isn’t, but all the exposition is ludicrous.

Léon‘s a really boring film without much value. But it is competently produced.

1/4

CREDITS

Written and directed by Luc Besson; director of photography, Thierry Arbogast; edited by Sylvie Landra; music by Eric Serra; production designer, Dan Weil; produced by Patrice Ledoux; released by Gaumont.

Starring Jean Reno (Léon), Gary Oldman (Stansfield), Natalie Portman (Mathilda), Danny Aiello (Tony), Peter Appel (Malky), Willi One Blood (1st Stansfield man), Don Creech (2nd Stansfield man), Keith A. Glascoe (3rd Stansfield man), Randolph Scott (4th Stansfield man), Michael Badalucco (Mathilda’s Father), Ellen Greene (Mathilda’s Mother), Elizabeth Regen (Mathilda’s Sister), Carl J. Matusovich (Mathilda’s Brother) and Frank Senger (Fatman).


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