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Léon: The Professional (1994)



Average Rating: 6.6/10
Reviews Counted: 56
Fresh: 40 | Rotten: 16

Pivoting on the unusual relationship between seasoned hitman and his 12-year-old apprentice -- a breakout turn by young Natalie Portman -- Luc Besson's Léon is a stylish and oddly affecting thriller.


Average Rating: 5.3/10
Critic Reviews: 17
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 9

Pivoting on the unusual relationship between seasoned hitman and his 12-year-old apprentice -- a breakout turn by young Natalie Portman -- Luc Besson's Léon is a stylish and oddly affecting thriller.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 268,405

My Rating

Movie Info

As visually stylish as it is graphically violent, this thriller directed by Luc Besson concerns Mathilda (Natalie Portman), a 12-year-old girl living in New York City who has been exposed to the sordid side of life from an early age: her family lives in a slum and her abusive father works for drug dealers, cutting and storing dope. Mathilda doesn't much care for her parents, but she has a close bond with her four-year-old brother. One day, she returns from running an errand to discover that most


Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense

Luc Besson

Aug 15, 2000

Columbia Pictures

Watch It Now


Latest News on Léon: The Professional

August 27, 2013:
Jessica Alba Joins Barely Lethal
She'll play the villain opposite Hailee Steinfeld in the Brett Ratner-produced project about a teen...
June 17, 2013:
Watch Natalie Portman's The Professional Audition
A star in the making.


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All Critics (56) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (16) | DVD (38)

Leave it to french writer-director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita) to put a kinky twist on Orphan Annie and Daddy Warbucks.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ultimately, like La Femme Nikita, there may be less here than meets the eye. But what does meet the eye is pretty darn thrilling.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The sheer craziness and excessiveness of the movie -- no crazier, perhaps, than many of the American action movies it copies -- never finds a center of gravity.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Professional is strictly amateur-hour.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Like Quentin Tarantino, Besson has a singular style and directorial sensibility that keeps you watching.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The most objectionable thing is Gary Oldman's performance, baroque in its awfulness. Almost as bad is the director's attempt to construct a visual style -- and, for that matter, characters -- by piling one mannerism on top of another.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

No matter what uncomfortable undercurrents the film gives rise to, Besson's skill with action is inventive and creative (and of course over the top).

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source:

The Professional is intriguing, but misses the mark as a potential cult favorite.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Funny, tragic, brilliant and unmissable.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Having one career highlight performance in a film is a treat. Having three is just spoiling us, and the film is so solidly sold by the actors that it mostly manages to sidestep the potential queasiness in the Léon/Mathilda relationship.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

It's an American movie as seen by someone whose main frame of reference is American movies, not American life. Therefore, while it's draped in a cloak of gritty realism, Besson's movie is really a kind of bizarre cinemaphile fantasy.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Tulsa World
Tulsa World

Its strengths grate against the movie's glaring flaws, mainly its complete lack of credibility.

June 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

Leon: The Professional has style to spare.

February 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

You'll enjoy the action, but you'll remember the movie because of Reno and Portman.

August 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
Three Movie Buffs

Stylish, mature hitman thriller is quite violent.

January 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Besson's incomparable film is almost impossible to beat and there's yet to be a director who could match his magnum opus...

March 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

"Leon The Professional" is a consummate hit man movie from the early '90s era in cinema when every young filmmaker wanted to be the next Tarantino. Luc Besson just had to be himself.

May 16, 2009 Full Review Source:

Reno's performance of hangdog loyalty lends his character pleasing sympathy while Besson's heavily stylized direction builds tension around sexy violence.

April 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Audience Reviews for Léon: The Professional

Professional killer Jean Reno reluctantly takes in a 12 year old girl after her family is murdered by corrupt police detectives. Luc Besson's mix of offbeat characters, humour and high octane action tends to be a little hit and miss, but in Leon he found the perfect balance between sensitive character study, emotion and tense action sequences. Pot plant loving, milk drinking loner Reno is the antithesis of the usual testosterone-soaked, gung-ho action hero and with no glib one liners or macho posturing, he takes no pleasure in the mayhem he induces; he's just very, very good at it. His relationship with a young Natalie Portman is sincere, funny and touching, and although emotionally ambiguous (at least from her adolescent point of view), it never crosses the line into sexual creepiness. Complimented by an excellent supporting cast, especially pill popping psychopath Gary Oldman who is the perfect foil for Reno's solitary hitman, and wonderfully scored Leon is easily Besson's best work and one of the best action thrillers around.
February 13, 2014
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Leon (The Professional) is quite possibly the finest work by director Luc Besson, whom is for me anyways, a director who is hit and miss. The Professional is a stunning piece of cinema that is near perfect, and displays an exhilarating, well paced plot that boasts impressive performances all around. Jean Reno and Gary Oldman are the standouts of the film, and Oldman's screen presence is magnetic. Jean Reno stars in the title role, and he definitely delivers one of his greatest performances. Natalie Portman plays Matilda, a 12 year old girl, whose parents got murdered and she wants revenge. Jean Reno as Leon takes her under his wing. Portman's character was very well thought out, and I felt it had a certain cold blooded innocence to it that added to the intensity of the film. I think the chemistry between actress Natalie Portman and Reno were great. At times, I must admit that Portman's character was a bit annoying, nonetheless, it didn't distract from the rest of the film, which was brilliant. Luc Besson has crafted his greatest work with Leon. This is a thrilling action packed film that will appeal to anyone seeking a solid piece of good thrills. Though not perfect, Leon is far better than most of Luc Besson's more recent productions. Leon is a very well made action film and I thought it was very well acted, with plenty of memorable performances by its cast. I thought that the idea of having a 12 year old wanting to become a "cleaner" was an interesting idea for the plot, and it worked marvelously well. In the end, if you want none stop thrills, with effective performances and a well thought plot, then The Professional is a film that you shouldn't miss.
January 23, 2014
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

November 17, 2013
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

A naive fairy tale splattered with blood. Always at the back of my mind was the troubled thought that there was something wrong about placing a 12-year-old character in the middle of this action.

It is stylish, darkly humorous, and almost artsy in its approach to the genre.
December 6, 2012
    1. Mathilda: Is life always this hard, or is it just when you're a kid?
    2. Leon: Always like this
    – Submitted by Milja A (17 months ago)
    1. Stansfield: I don't have time for this MICKEY MOUSE BULLSH*T!
    – Submitted by Anthony L (18 months ago)
    1. Stansfield: Its when you really start to fear death that you learn to appreciate life.
    – Submitted by Will M (19 months ago)
    1. Mathilda: I'm fair game for any Hollywood pedophiles that want me!
    – Submitted by Jesse K (21 months ago)
    1. Stansfield: I like these calm little moments before the storm. It reminds me of Beethoven. Can you hear it? It's like when you put your head to the grass and you can hear the growin' and you can hear the insects. Do you like Beethoven?
    – Submitted by Typhon Q (24 months ago)
    1. Leon: Never in the face, If they can not recognize the client, you don't get paid. Cause you could take anybody and said you did the job. Got it?
    2. Mathilda: Got it. Never in the face.
    – Submitted by Rad D (2 years ago)
View all quotes (28)

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