Leon The Professional: Action isn’t only about Action
They’re making another Fast and Furious movie. Somehow a film series based on cars, tanks and attractive women (I have also been told there is a plot) continues to pump out nothing more than eye candy.
I can’t completely denounce the entire franchise; I do feel that the first 3 films are actually alright and garnered the success that they deserve. However, somewhere along the line, it was decided that the franchise would solely aim for fan service without including any real cinematic elements. Cinematography, character development and moral quandaries don’t sell tickets the way they do anymore; explosions do. What’s the problem with this though? If it’s what audiences want to see, what’s the problem with delivering it to them? The problem lies in that the audience can only feel disconnected to the movie when they don’t really know who their characters are. Does the film, have “heartfelt” scenes that were placed (forced) throughout the series? Sure. But these movies aren’t about that. They’re not about the hidden motives and character development that surround each character in their own individual way. They’re just about stuff. Action films should feature action but they’re characters cannot just be more than forces that cause action. Where the true action heroes can be found are those that are a product of that action. Does Leon: The Professional have explosions? Yes. Does it have guns? A surplus. Does it have drugs and other contraband? Of course. So what’s the difference? It’s the scenes that don’t contain any of these. It’s during these scenes that we see that these characters aren’t just hollow killing machines.
In the case of Leon, we are first introduced to him strategically mowing down countless thugs in a graceful and emotionless fashion. If this emotionless persona would have been constant throughout the film, view this film would be just “cool” and “exciting.” But Leon is more than the actions he commits.
Humans care about other humans. Possibly as one of our own primal instincts, we have become much more sympathetic to our own species more than any other. This simple premise significantly separates Leon from any usual Hollywood blockbuster action star. In John Truby’s masterpiece The Anatomy of Story, he explains how when characters arent subjected it their own internal problems, they come off simply as “perfect characters” which leads to a reactive and predictable plot. Large portions of this film are dedicated to Leon solving problems, not by guns and explosions, but by his own inner moral boundaries and his development over time. Through this slow study of character, when the fights scenes arrive the audience is not just looking for exciting and clever action scenes (although they are delivered). Instead the audience fears for the safety of Leon as we know he is much more than just a killing machine; he is a human.