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Leon: The Professional
Crime, Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
Luc Besson
Jean Reno as LΓ©on
Gary Oldman as Stansfield
Natalie Portman as Mathilda
Danny Aiello as Tony
Peter Appel as Malky
Willi One Blood as 1st Stansfield man
Don Creech as 2nd Stansfield man
Keith A. Glascoe as 3rd Stansfield man (Benny)
Randolph Scott as 4th Stansfield man
Michael Badalucco as Mathilda's Father
Ellen Greene as Mathilda's Mother
Elizabeth Regen as Mathilda's Sister
Carl J. Matusovich as Mathilda's Brother
Frank Senger as Fatman
Storyline: After her father, mother, older sister and little brother are killed by her father's employers, the 12-year-old daughter of an abject drug dealer is forced to take refuge in the apartment of a professional hitman who at her request teaches her the methods of his job so she can take her revenge on the corrupt DEA agent who ruined her life by killing her beloved brother.
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A beautiful and disturbing piece of cinema
This is an extraordinary film, one of the rarities that successfully straddles the action and drama genres. A young girl from an abusive drug-dealing family approaches the smashed-in door of her apartment. Instinctively she realises that everyone has been murdered by the corrupt drug-squad officers standing at the door. Stifling her terror, she walks past to the door of another apartment and knocks on it as though it is her own home, praying that the strange neighbour will open the door and let her in… Luc Besson explores with great skill the unlikely relationship between Mathilde the 12-year old orphan and Leon: professional killer, immature loner and psychopath. Despite their apparent differences, the similarities are greater: Leon is childlike in many ways, whereas Mathilde (perhaps through necessity) demonstrates a ruthlessness that will give hardened criminals pause.

There is action a-plenty. At times it defies reality, although no more so than the action scenes in Lethal Weapon or Die Hard, and the character juxtaposition is way beyond what such films usually achieve.

Some of the negative reviews on this site are hard to believe: some don't like it because it depicts corrupt DEA agents (reality check people – every police agency has bad apples); others don't like it because it is said to push pedophilia (yet Besson goes out of his way to show that, despite having every opportunity, Leon firmly rejects any sexual relationship with Mathilde); others are disturbed by the thought that a 12-year old girl could contemplate revenge or seriously want to kill the men who murdered her little brother (again, sorry for the dose of reality but in some parts of the world children younger than this are soldiers, drug-dealers or worse); some reviewers are clearly disturbed by the "European" feel to the film (personal taste – I liked it).

The movie ends on a surprisingly optimistic note: Mathilde's wild proposal to work as an assassin is rejected by a horrified mafioso. Despite his amorality (and the obvious uses that someone in his position could find for her) he produces the money for her school fees and sends her packing. At school, she plants Leon's pet plant so that it can "put down roots" – a symbol that she herself is now going to do that, instead of the rootless life she has been living since the slaughter of her family.

Despite the violence and gore, the themes of the film are love (in the non-sexual sense), companionship and human need.
How can I rate this unique movie less than a 10. Intelligent dialogues, strong emotional build-up, fast pace, absorbing atmosphere and a great soundtrack.

But Leon would be doomed without first class actors. All four main characters are perfectly cast and brilliantly played. Their presence dominates this movie, which by the way has nothing to do with an action flick, it is a masterfully crafted character study. Action is just the extra salt to the delicious cinematic plate Luc Besson is offering to us.

Natalie Portman requires a special praise. This is not only a stunning performance from a 12 year old girl, this is even not only a great performance from an accomplished actress, it is absolutely Oscar material and, judging from her next projects, easily her best role to date.

It is no coincidence that Luc Besson, Eric Serra and Jean Reno are French. They know how to go past the surface and make a movie with a feeling.
I saw Leon 9 years ago and have never been so utterly gripped or moved by any other film since. Nathalie Portman as 'Mathilda' was mesmerising and Jean Leno has yet to excel in subsequent films, I always see him as 'Leon' (sad, yeah?) Is the uncut version only on DVD or is there a US version that someone is keeping secret from me? If so, where can I get a copy? Also, is there a soundtrack available? only song I've heard is Sting's 'Shape of my Heart'. I loved the haunting violin sounds throughout the film. With regards to other comments on the the 'sexual' nature of Leon and Mathilda's relationship, I'd like to think it was innocent, pure love and a lack of a decent father figure in her life, but I may change my mind when I see the uncut version!
Absolutely Brilliant
I knew I loved this movie, but after revisiting it after about a decade, it still stands up -- No, it more than stands up. Like a good wine, it actually gets better with age. I just watched it with my 13-year old son, a budding film enthusiast, and he just flat-out loved it. Great story, top-of-the-line performances by Portman, Reno and Oldman, wonderful direction. Even the music is great! What more can I say? This stands the test of time and stands proudly among the best ever made. This time around, I was particularly impressed with the artistic mixture of drama, action and comedy. Besson knows exactly where the camera should be at all times to tell an entertaining, gripping and touching story that is both daring and caring. Hard to do!
State-of-the Art movie
Absolutely loved every bit of it. A true classic surprisingly underrated and overlooked in history. It is in full swing every way you look at it, it’s flawless. I call it perfection. The pinnacle of Luc Besson film-making career. Direction was superb as well as the soundtracks and scores (by Eric Serra). The scores was one of the pivotal element of the movie which add to the depth and dense atmosphere to the movie. Besides the movie is highly stylish and original. All these finishes off with one of the greatest, breath taking ending to a movie I’ve ever seen and that without using excessive special effects.

The movie carefully drew the picture of the characters in the opening 25 min. In the art of killing, Léon is a Pro. But in real life, he is a loner. Like DeNiro in Taxi Driver. His best friend is his plant. Deep down, he is a child. He is mentally slow and do not know how to read nor write. Then there is Mathilda, a 12 years old girl who lives in a dysfunctional family, on the verge of committing suicide. She has endured the hardships of life that had made her mature at her young age. Her entire family was wiped out by a corrupt DEA Officer and his men because of drug problems. She had no other place to turn to except his next door neighbor, Léon.

Then the tone of the movie changes completely which breaks the stereotypes of other action movies. This is where the movie caught me by surprise. I thought it will become just another boring movie and how wrong was I! Prepare yourself for awesomeness! This is something I never experienced before in any other movie. It was that exceptional. The way it’s constructed & layered or in short put together was a work of genius. Arty like. There was this fascination and perfect chemistry between the two characters. It looked so freaking real and deep that you are taken away in the skin of the characters.

The cast & acting was perfect:

- Luc Besson wrote the script with Jean Reno as Léon in mind and no one else. The role was crafted for him and he delivers the goods. He played on his facial expressions more than words actually throughout the movie. He portrayed the character as exactly Luc wished it to be. This is his breakthrough and famous movie.

- Nathalie Portman was so versatile in her role as Mathilda. She pulled up into a complex and difficult role. She was wonderful and prolific considering her age (12). She shifted between different moods seamlessly (An uncontrollable burst of laughter in the Restaurant scene and a burst of tears in the ending moments of the movie). She is lovable, cute, touching and has a lovely innocent voice. Still her best acting to date.

- Then there is Gary Oldman as Stansfield with one of the most memorable and iconic negative role ever played. You will love to hate him. I won’t hesitate to say that he was on par with the great Heath Ledger’s Joker. His lines were a killer. He’s acting was scary and funny at the same time. He's a freak. He is definitely amazing. Danny Aiello role as Tony was excellent in a minor role.

Verdict: 10/10.

Perfect. Memorable. Repeated viewings recommended & watch the uncut edition to enjoy the true potential of the movie. It still holds as my favorite movie after 14 years of existence. Never gets old. Glad to see it is gaining its due respect with time and still climbing the ladder in IMDb Top 250 ;)
Great movie
Greetings from Lithuania.

"Léon" (1994) is essentially a movie with everything working so well that you might forgive it's lunatic plot and enjoy for what it is - a movie. The plot is like a fairytale for adults, that would never happen in real life, and there aren't people who live like Leon, nor there are 12 years old girls who can come armed with two weapons into police headquarters with main goal to kill a detective. But this is a movie for god-sake, and a great one it is.

It is very sentimental, but that is just one of the parts that makes it's unique and unforgettable. Character are drawn very sharp in here and we start to care for both lead from the opening sequence of them together - that is because of performances, great and simple script and wonderful chemistry between two leads - this is still i think one of the very best performances by Natalie Portman. Directing, cinematography are great, with some clearly visible style and mood trough the film, which makes it feel like a unique - still.

Overall, "Léon" is great action film with lots of well made sentiments. Performances are amazing by all three actors (Oldman including), but it's Natalie who steals the show. Add craftsmanship which creates this unique style, simple but sharp script and tons of sentimental moments (but not to much) and a bit coming of age story and you will get a mix of superb motion picture, a true fairytale for adults. This is a great picture. Still.
Deeper than the descriptions
This movie has so many levels to it any description doesn't do it justice. The juxtapositions of what assassins should be concerned with, what little girls should be protected from, what evil men do to create chaos in this world, . . . Too many well-thought out interactions between characters to do the film justice with descriptive words. If you do not experience vile anger, compassion for killers, heart-felt paternal wishes to whisk this child from adult evil or the need to cheer ruthless revenge without guilt, then you are simply not human. The depth and presentation of these characters by excellent, superb acting is only overshadowed by the writing of this masterpiece.
Gripping story with well-crafted characters
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.
Intense, gripping, stylish and poignant with one of the best feature debuts ever
Luc Besson's film Leon:The Professional is a superb one. Visually, it is very stylish, with striking location work, atmospheric lighting and really authentic and bold cinematography. The soundtrack also does very well in enhancing the mood of each scene, and Besson's direction is faultless.

There is also a gripping story with well crafted characters particularly Mathilda and Jean Reno's character Leon, a cracking script and crisp pacing and while there are some over-the-top and intense moments particularly with Stansfield and the beginning, particularly as the chemistry between Mathilda and Leon expands there are some poignant ones too.

The acting is excellent. Jean Reno is charismatic and commanding in the title role while Gary Oldman is wildly bombastic as Stansfield. But I was especially impressed by Natalie Portman, who delivers one of the best and most captivating feature debuts ever. In conclusion, a fantastic film. 10/10 Bethany Cox
This is a highly recommended masterpiece .an other great favorite of mine.This film was absolutely amazing.I can not forget it.I watched it Several times and I'm still hoping that Léon can get through the door and reach the bright sun light. .distinguished acting. When I see Leon I love him.i think jean reno should have been nominated for a best actor nomination. Gary Oldman is fantastic.Then there is Gary Oldman as Stansfield with one of the most memorable and iconic negative role ever played.i knew the little girl was Nataile Portman..Wow, its really a fine acting from the actress.For me is this movie the real #1 of the top 250!Léon is the best movie character I have ever seen,
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