When you learn that a movie has been made on a budget of 100euros it is safe to say expectations are low, especially when that movie is dealing with the sci-fi genre.
But Leon Must Die surpasses those low expectations, relying on the human stories at the core and finding subtle humour in the limitations of their production budget.
The story focuses on Leon, a seemingly normal mid-twenties guy who is terminally ill. In his quest to save himself he is set to invent a technology that will digitise his mind and make him immortal. That invention kind of ruins the future for mankind! An assassin, Aqua, is send back in time to kill him and fix the future. But there’s a snag, the two fall in love.
Writer and director Lars Kokemuller clearly understands the restrictions he faced, and the result is a slacker rom-com woven into a time-travel, sci-fi action adventure that never takes itself seriously enough to fail. It subverts both genres, whilst poking fun at the tropes related with them.
The sci-fi action is kept to a minimum, with the script instead focusing on the developing relationship between the two leads and the existential crisis with which Leon is faced as the truth of his invention is made apparent.
The effects are skilfully executed considering the low budget. Used sparingly there is never a focus on the limitations of this lo-fi production. This only adds small flourishes of sci-fi action to a movie that relies on slow, long contemplative shots and slow meandering edits to focus on the humanity of the piece.
Even the fight scenes, while at times understandably clunky, are believably pulled off.
Both Philip Spreen (as Leon) and Nisan Arikan (as Aqua) carry the film with understated and naturalistic performances, which Alexander F. Obe’s overly serious performance as an assassin robot creates wonderful humour from the straightness of the delivery.
Leon Must Die is an adeptly delivered lo-fi sci-fi gem that has much more to offer than time-travel action. It is a existential and romantic lament on humanity’s place in reality and our relationship with technology that is worth seeking out.
Leon Must Die gets a second screening at Derby Film Festival on Monday 7th May at 17:30
Read our interview with director Lars Kokemuller HERE.
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