Léon: The Professional (1994) - Luc Besson's poignant tale of a hitman and his young protégée

Solid performances from Oldman, Reno and Portman elevate the film

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Leon: The Professional (1994), Movie Poster, Directed by Luc Besson, starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman
IMDb Ratings: 8.6
GenreCrime | Drama | Thriller
CastJean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman
Country: France
Language: English | Italian
Runtime: 133 min
ColorColor (Technicolor)

Summary: A professional assassin rescues a young girl whose parents were killed in a police raid.

Léon: The Professional presents the beautiful story of a hitman. You can say it’s a contrasting adjective for a hitman? Hell yeah! Jean Reno, who is playing the eponymous character here, always invokes a feeling of comfort and security whenever I watch him in the movies. You know he is gonna make things right. Here he carries out the task given to him in the most orderly manner possible, dotingly calling himself a cleaner. You would not think killing was such a professional job.

Jean Reno as Léon, and Natalie Portman as Mathilda in Léon: The Professional, Directed by Luc Besson
Jean Reno and Natalie Portman in Léon: The Professional
He is damned with the task of saving his next door neighbor, Natalie Portman (Mathilda), a 12-year-old girl living with her dysfunctional family. She is miraculously spared while her entire family is shot by the DEA agents, including her loving 4-year old brother. Léon is forced to take her in his stride and thus begins a heart-warming journey involving the two of them. 

Gary Oldman as agent Stansfield is a treat to watch. His dialogues are crisp, manners uncommon and can easily be mistaken to be an underworld Don more than a DEA agent. 

It’s a feast to watch the unruly kid getting along with the disciplined Léon  To avenge her brother's death, she tries to learn the art of 'cleaning' whilst Léon is taught things he never knew of. All he had was a houseplant and Calisthenics (a form of exercise) to keep him company. But, thanks to Mathilda, he is introduced to situations he is not prepared for, not meant for.

Gary Oldman as the DEA agent Stansfield in Léon: The Professional, Directed by Luc Besson
Gary Oldman as the DEA agent Stansfield
You can’t help but smile during certain scenes. The ways he adopts to teach Mathilda to shoot with a gun are funny. “The rifle is the first weapon you learn how to use because it lets you keep your distance from the client. The closer you get to being a pro, the closer you can get to the client. The knife, for example, is the last thing you learn" says Léon  They make a great team complementing each other perfectly. He knows how to pull a trigger and she knows to read and do chores. The contrast is charming.

The setting of the movie is commendable. Breezing through the streets of Little Italy in New York, one is put in the right backdrop to watch the action.

The way the DEA agent Stansfield is killed in the end makes one to really appreciate the plot. It’s totally unexpected and comes at the right moment. Having a not so happy ending still makes the movie very endearing. I would say it’s the right mix of action with emotions.

Jean Reno as the hitman Léon, threatens to shoot with pistol,  in Léon: The Professional, Directed by Luc Besson
A Still from Luc Besson's Léon: The Professional
Originally inspired by a French film, it was released both in France and the US in 1994. This is Natalie Portman's very first movie and she does an excellent job as a child artist. Her temperament and Jean Reno's composure is the highlight of the movie. Gary Oldman is portrayed to be a lover of Beethoven and the clips where he plays them can’t be missed. I love the dialogue delivery wherein he exclaims, "I like these calm little moments before the storm. It reminds me of Beethoven". You get to witness the storm as well as the calm. Don’t miss it!

About Author - 

Priyanka G is a techie by choice and a dreamer by passion. With rocket science as history and computer graphics as future, she has wide spectrum of interests. Writing gives her a vent, an identity and a sense of happiness. She is particularly fond of English humour, satire and old classics. She writes at http://cosmos-speak-ur-mind.blogspot.com/.

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