Leon: The Professional

November 18th, 1994

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Leon: The Professional

Still of Jean Reno in Leon: The ProfessionalStill of Natalie Portman and Jean Reno in Leon: The ProfessionalStill of Gary Oldman in Leon: The ProfessionalStill of Natalie Portman in Leon: The ProfessionalLuc Besson in Leon: The Professional

Professional assassin Leon reluctantly takes care of 12-year-old Mathilda, a neighbor whose parents are killed, and teaches her his trade.

Release Year: 1994

Rating: 8.6/10 (297,354 voted)

Critic's Score: 64/100

Director: Luc Besson

Stars: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman

Mathilda, a twelve-year old New York girl, is living an undesirable life among her half-family. Her father stores drugs for two-faced cop Norman Stansfield. Only her little brother keeps Mathilda from breaking apart. One day, Stansfield and his team take cruel revenge on her father for stretching the drugs a little, thus killing the whole family. Only Mathilda, who was out shopping, survives by finding shelter in Léon's apartment in the moment of highest need. Soon, she finds out about the strange neighbour's unusual profession - killing - and desperately seeks his help in taking revenge for her little brother. Léon, who is completely unexperienced in fatherly tasks, and in friendships, does his best to keep Mathilda out of trouble - unsuccessfully. Now, the conflict between a killer, who slowly discovers his abilities to live, to feel, to love and a corrupt police officer...

Jean Reno - Léon
Gary Oldman - Stansfield
Natalie Portman - Mathilda
Danny Aiello - Tony
Peter Appel - Malky
Willi One Blood - 1St Stansfield Man (as Willie One Blood)
Don Creech - 2nd Stansfield man
Keith A. Glascoe - 3rd Stansfield man (Benny)
Randolph Scott - 4th Stansfield man
Michael Badalucco - Mathilda's Father
Ellen Greene - Mathilda's Mother
Elizabeth Regen - Mathilda's Sister
Carl J. Matusovich - Mathilda's Brother
Frank Senger - Fatman
Lucius Wyatt Cherokee - Tonto (as Lucius Wyatt 'Cherokee')

Taglines: Revenge is a tough game, even for a Professional (Australia)

Release Date: 18 November 1994

Filming Locations: 1 Centre Street, New York City, New York, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: FRF 115,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $5,306,558 (USA) (20 November 1994) (1 Screen)

Gross: $19,251,002 (USA)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | France: (uncut version)  | (International version)  | Turkey: (TV version)

Did You Know?

Léon Gaumont was a French inventor developing cinematographic techniques in the late 19th century alongside with the Lumière brothers. Gaumont is the name of the production company that made this film.

Crew or equipment visible: When Leon tells Mathilda, at the very end, to "grab the ax off the wall", when she opens the glass door, you can see the director Luc Besson's reflection in the glass, behind the camera filming her.

[first lines]
Tony: Allora, come stai, Leone?
Léon: Bene.
[Tony puts out his cigarette in an ashtray]
Tony: OK. OK. Let's talk business.

User Review

Gripping story with well-crafted characters

Rating: 10/10

Luc Besson's movie Léon (The Professional) gives us an intense story which is maximized in potential by the casting of the movie done by Todd Thaler. Every aspect of the movie delivers to the audience and makes an impressive overall package. Jean Reno plays a character named Léon who has learned to repress his emotions in order to perform his job as a "cleaner", or hit-man. His secluded world is shattered by the young girl named Mathilda who lives on the same floor as he does in an apartment building. When she turns to him for help, he learns about living a normal life, even if the circumstances which unite them are far from normal.

The performance delivered by then twelve-year old Natalie Portman as Mathilda is nothing short of brilliant. Her ability to relate to others with body movement and facial gestures is matched by few, she really brings raw emotion and believability to a difficult role. Mathilda and Léon are unexpectedly thrown together, but learn to value life from their chance encounter, and how valuable a friendship can be.

Jean Reno as Léon gives us a solemn and calculated character who sets all of his energy on his assignments until her is given something else to care about. Mathilda gives him the daughter that he never had, while Léon serves as a father and friend to her. Gary Oldman, as the corrupt DEA Agent Norman Stansfield, offers the viewers an amazingly wired and electrical performance which pushes the envelope. He moves the story along by his actions. Oldman offers us a memorable portrait of a sadistically obsessed man who stops short of nothing to get what he wants.

The Professional is what movie-making is all about. Without the overuse of special effects, a large shooting location, or a commercially star studded cast, we are given all that could possibly be asked for in a movie. Portman, Oldman, and Reno, along with Danny Aiello as the hit-contractor Tony remind us that there is no substitute for great acting. There are elements of comedy, drama, and action, and great original music by Eric Serra adds to the energy the film already encapsulates. The most impressive thing about the movie is its story which is basic but is maximized by all the other elements which go into the making of the movie. Simply put, an intense and impressive movie.

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