Léon: The Professional (1994)



Critic Consensus: 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.

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 … More

Rating: R (for scenes of strong graphic violence, and for language)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Luc Besson
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 15, 2000
Columbia Pictures


as Stansfield

as Mathilda's Father

as Mathilda's Mother

as Mathilda's Sister

as Mathilda's Brother

as Mathilda's Brother

as Stansfield's Man

as Stansfield's Man

as Fatman

as Mathilda's Taxi Driv...

as Leon's Taxi Driver

as Policeman

as Policeman

as Security Man

as Orphanage Headmistre...

as Stairway Swat

as Important Jogger

as Security Guard

as SWAT Team

as SWAT Team

as Stansfield's Man

as Receptionist

as Client #1

as Tony's Barber
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News & Interviews for Léon: The Professional

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Critic Reviews for Léon: The Professional

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (17)

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

Full Review… | June 4, 2014
Rolling Stone
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 4, 2014
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 4, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

The Professional is strictly amateur-hour.

Full Review… | June 4, 2014
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 4, 2014
Seattle Times
Top 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.

Full Review… | June 4, 2014
New Yorker
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Léon: The Professional


Cute - a 12 year old hitman. Natalie Portman plays Mathilda - a kid who is orphaned by a crooked cop. Leon is the loner "cleaner" and Leon and Mathilda become a family with Mathilda learning the trade.

Red Lats

Super Reviewer


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.

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.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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