mattmav45’s review published on Letterboxd:
A large amount of focus on this film is put on the core relationship, but to me this film is all about the villain.
Leon is a damn cool assassin that moves with the shadows. Mathilda is a young girl from a, let's say eccentric family, and said eccentric family's dad just happens to in some trouble with some corrupt law enforcement. The aforementioned trouble blows up in a big way, and Mathilda is left to pick up the pieces after her entire family is murdered. Naturally, like any young 12-year old girl, she moves in with her neighbor assassin and begins training to become one herself.
It's not that the relationship didn't work for me, but the characters are what I choose to focus on. Specifically, the two characters in the context of what happened to Mathilda's family, and the point at which the lives would thereafter be forever changed. Enter Detective Stansfield, played in brilliant fashion by Gary Oldman. Let's be clear here, Oldman is fucking awesome in this. Stansfield in many ways is the jumping point for the entire film and all the dynamics within. The attitude and mindset of Mathilda and Leon are fueled by Stansfield's actions.
The film does a good job flipping around one's preconceived notions of good and evil. Portrayed here is a detective that has full power to wreck havoc on anyone and everyone who crosses his path. On the other hand you have a cold-blooded assassin who takes in a young girl and protects her from said detective. It doesn't delve deep into these dynamics, but it was just enough to interest me. I thought it went well with the villain dynamic explained above.
Simply a damn cool film, and one that I can see improving upon re-watch.