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Léon: The Professional

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Léon: The Professional (1994)

September. 14,1994
| Drama Thriller Crime
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Léon, the top hit man in New York, has earned a rep as an effective "cleaner". But when his next-door neighbors are wiped out by a loose-cannon DEA agent, he becomes the unwilling custodian of 12-year-old Mathilda. Before long, Mathilda's thoughts turn to revenge, and she considers following in Léon's footsteps.


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Im not going to go into detail about Leon, for those who haven't seen this legend of a movie.Stick it on sit down and enjoy, and you will enjoy trust me.


There are enough gun slinging scenes here to somewhat satisfy the average joe who fiends for action, but this movie doesn't use just senseless violence to push the plot forward. Life as a killer and as a child rendezvouz here unexpectedly, an inveterate killer and a child who resembles a sacred innocence meeting each other to form an unlikely relationship. The child's life has already been tainted with violence and subsequent tragedies, but the killer father figure tries to shield her eyes from any further damage. The killer plays an emotionless man who preys on those who have rubbed people the wrong way. He is the archangel and the death angel, holding the dual responsibility of keeping peace in the child's life and also going about his normal routine of dispatching his foes. The child is a girl named Mathilda, played by Natalie Portman, and she is a symbol of a childhood robbed of its idyllic backdrop, and changed forever by a Landscape of apathy and violence. Her life begins to take a chaotic turns as she accepts the protection of Leon, an emotionless killer who performs his tasks like a robot but is determined to protect the child from harm. Realizing that the child's life has already been contorted by her exposure to violence and tragedies, he only hopes to amends by protecting her from any more harm.

The Movie Diorama

Safe to say this film has spawned many iterations of omnipotent invincible hitmen, it isn't hard to see why. Opening to a lukewarm reception, Léon has rapidly garnered cult status and is a firm favourite amongst film aficionados. A young girl's family is brutally gunned down by a crooked detective, she teams up with a hitman named Léon in order to avenge their deaths. Suffice to say this is an action drama that needs to be viewed by everyone...and I mean "EVERYONEEEE!". It would be easy to class this as an exaggerative over-the-top action thrill ride, but it's so much more than that. Thanks to Besson's Parisian directing style, he focussed his attention to the quirky original relationship between Léon and Mathilda. A girl who has experienced the dark side of life, growing up with a father who deals drugs and regularly hooking up with women. To then be embraced by a determined yet warming hitman, her idyllic fantasy of a caring father figure becomes reality. The bond that rapidly forms between these two characters is fascinating to watch. Her idolisation for him and his protectiveness for her. It's a union that shouldn't work, but does. They both teach each other aspects of life they aren't necessarily familiar with, which furthers the intricate character development. Acting was terrific from everyone. Reno's commanding titular performance encapsulated the screen. Portman's debut is quite possibly the best child performance I've seen. And then there's Oldman as the crazed antagonist, who steals every scene. Whilst this is absolutely entertaining, there are obvious issues. The plot is too thin to carry the full runtime, it takes far too much time developing the character relationship where the actual plot feels neglected, leaving the antagonist on the sideline until the third act. Also the music choice occasionally didn't fit the bustling urban environment and took me out of the film. Aside from those points, it's considerably better than most crime dramas and has aged impeccably well. Everyone needs a Léon in their life.


When her family are slaughtered by a corrupt DEA officer and his men, a 12 year old girl takes refuge in a neighbour's apartment. A neighbour who it turns out is a professional hitman. She soon convinces him to train her to be his protégée.This was French director Luc Besson's first American movie. It is a follow up of sorts to his earlier chic action-thriller Nikita (1990), with Jean Reno essentially reprising his role of a cleaner (professional assassin), although in this one he is playing a different actually character. Like all Besson's movies there is considerable style brought to the table with the action sequences once again particularly well-delivered. But perhaps the true revelation of the movie is Natalie Portman who puts in an extremely strong performance for such a young actress, full of charisma, humour and emotional depth. She plays off well against Reno, who is also impressive. Gary Oldman, on the other hand, is pretty grating and annoying mostly as the main villain, a character who is cartoonish and somewhat ridiculous overall.While I do find this film good quality for the most part, with great action sequences and some interesting characterisations, I have to express serious reservations about the director's cut, where Portman's young character is constantly trying to get Reno to sleep with her. Its majorly uncomfortable stuff and really entirely unnecessary. And while Léon does spurn her advances, it's never really very clear that he rejects her for entirely the right reasons. Seemingly in the original script, the characters do actually end up sleeping together, which we can only be grateful never actually made the final cut but it does make you wonder what Besson was thinking with all this questionable stuff. My advice would be to avoid the director's cut and watch this one in the trimmed version, which removes all this contentious material.