Stiq Flicks – from film and video game industry freelance writer Kevin Kelly – examines video games and attempts to pair them with matching films. It's like wine and cheese, but with more aliens.
Dishonored puts you into the shoes (and mask) of a mysterious bodyguard who has been framed for the murder of his Empress employer. Saved from death by a band of insurgents, he becomes an assassin who stalks in the shadows and kills silently ... or with extreme noise, depending on how you play the game. Whatever way you decide to go at it, Corvo's ultimate goal is to find and protect the Empress' daughter, Emily.
Which brings us to our film pairing for the game. In 1994, Luc Besson wrote and directed Léon, which was called The Professional in the United States. It starred French actor Jean Reno as a Léon, a skillful hitman "cleaner" working for the mob who takes a very young Mathilda (Natalie Portman) under his wing after her family is murdered by crooked cops.
The character of Léon is a fleshed-out version of a similar cleaner character that Jean Reno played in La Femme Nikita, and Besson himself has said, "Now maybe Jean is playing the American cousin of Victor. This time he's more human." Which is an understatement. Although Léon is a hitman, he's more human than plenty of the heroes of cinema.
Léon leads a very simple life in New York City: he cares meticulously for his plant, drinks milk, loves Gene Kelly, and kills people. He lives this simple existence in a stark, ramshackle apartment, where his next door neighbor is a thug and his floozy wife who have gotten over their heads in the drug business. Which just happens to involve several members of the New York City's DEA squad, whose leader is the pill-popping, scene-chewing Stansfield (Gary Oldman).
It seems that Léon's neighbor has been holding out on the drugs he's been passing on to the cops, and when they come searching for the missing narcotics, things don't go so well. The entire family is slaughtered, except for little Mathilda who is out picking up milk for Léon in an effort to impress him. When she returns and sees the carnage, she walks to Léon's door as if it is her own, and begs him to let her in.
This is where Léon's world gets turned topsy-turvy. While his coda of killing is "No Women. No Kids," he also can't have someone around who is a liability. Something that the twelve-year-old Mathilda most definitely is. In fact, the first night she spends at his apartment, he holds a gun to her head while she sleeps, knowing that he should pull the trigger. But he doesn't, and it isn't long before she becomes an integral part of his life. Especially after firing one his revolvers out the window and demanding that he teach her how to be a cleaner so she can get revenge.
Almost immediately, Léon's boss Tony (Danny Aiello) begins to suspect that something is up after seeing a noticeable change in his behavior. Mathilda has been teaching him how to read, and for what might be the first time in his life he's beginning to think that there might be life outside of bullets and blood. The trouble is that Stan's crew knows that the missed one of the kids in the house raid, and they're out looking for her. That puts them directly into Léon's path, where things continue to go poorly.
While Gary Oldman's performance as Stan is superb and over the top, Jean Reno's portrayal of Léon is sublime and touching. While Stan and Mathilda can both be manipulative to get what they want, poor Léon is at the whim of his emotions, following them wherever they may lead him. Portman's turn as Mathilda in her feature film debut is equally powerful, considering that she was actually 12 years old at the time, and had never acted in a film before.
Where You Can Watch Leon: The Professional Although this film is nearly 20 years old, its streaming options are limited. You can buy it to watch it on Amazon Instant Video for $9.99, and on the Xbox for $10.00 SD, $16.00 HD. Unfortunately, the movie isn't listed on the PlayStation 3, although you can pick up Besson's La Femme Nikita there, as well as on Amazon and Xbox. Both of these films would make a great double-feature.
For $9.99 you can also pick the extended international Blu-ray version of the film. This version contains both the theatrical and the international cuts of the film, with the international version containing 25 minutes of extra footage. These added scenes shed a lot more light on Léon's relationship with Mathilda.
With the Blu-ray, you get this nearly a half-hour of restored footage as well as the film in high-definition, along with a handful of extras. Play Dishonored, and when you get to a stopping point, fire up Léon: The Professional and find out about the patriarchal relationships between assassins and children.
Kevin Kelly is a writer and pop culture junkie with a fixation on video games, movies, and board games. His writing has been seen at io9, Film School Rejects, Machinima, TechRadar, Wizard World, and The Austin Chronicle. He lives in Los Angeles and does not know how to surf. Follow him on Twitter @kevinkelly.