Léon: The Professional - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Léon: The Professional Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 24, 2007
note: Watch the director's cut/uncut version unless you can't handle a good movie.
Super Reviewer
October 1, 2010
With a very interesting, yet simple premise, "Leon: The Professional" is a very smart, stylistic thriller about a young girl whose family has been murdered. Trying to cope with that while being on the run by a hitman who is saving her life, the bonding between the two is unlike anything you will get in most films out there, from any generation. I loved this picture from start to finish. From it's extremely drab look, to the creepy vibe Leon gives, even though you know his intentions are great, this is one film you surely shouldn't miss. In the end, this is one of the best films in this genre that I have ever seen. Jean Reno and Natalie Portman are phenomenal, the script is undeniably brilliant, and the score will have your heart racing, even in moments you would least expect. The final act of this film had me on the edge of my seat, and I believe it will do that for everyone. I highly recommend this film to fans and non-fans of this genre. "Leon: The Professional" is a brilliant picture.
Super Reviewer
½ May 17, 2015
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.
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2006
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.
Super Reviewer
August 11, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
December 6, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
½ April 16, 2007
Tense from the opening shot, this is a slick and suspenseful movie, a classic of the action genre but one that's thrilling for other reasons as well. There's a little comedy, subtle echoes of some classics (Taxi Driver, True Grit), a disturbing sexualization of the precocious Natalie Portman character as a subplot, a surprise motive for the "bad" guys (well-led by Gary Oldman, in a great turn), and an ending that's, shall we say, explosive. Immediately after watching it I wanted to watch it again; aside from a few overly sentimental blips in the early going, it's pretty much a perfect movie. Weird that I couldn't get into Subway or The Fifth Element (Besson's other work) - I absolutely loved this outing.
Super Reviewer
December 28, 2010
What begins as a fascinating action film soon gives in to some clichés and contrivances in the second half, lacking a believable development of the characters and going for an awkward sexual implication between them that stands in the way - something made explicit in the Director's Cut.
Super Reviewer
½ October 29, 2012
After some successful and highly creative films in his native France, director Luc Besson turned his hand to American cinema in 1994 with "Leon". He had already covered the story of a lethal assassin in his 1990 film "La Femme Nikita", which also featured Jean Reno in a small role as a "cleaner". This time he focuses more on Reno and gives him the lead as a similar hitman for hire. It may be set in New York - with English speakers - but this is still very much an artistic French film.
Leon (Reno) is a contract killer and is seemingly content with his minimal social life. However, when his young and impressionable 12 year old neighbour Matilda (Natalie Portman) comes home to find her family has been killed by corrupt cop and drug dealer Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman), she runs to him for help. The closer they become, the sooner she discovers Leon's profession and asks him to teach her the skills so that she can have revenge on her family's killer.
From the off-set, Besson's visual style is clearly apparent and he makes wonderful use of New York locations with regular cinematographer Thierry Arbogast. He also allows the characters to blossom and creates and endearing friendship that serves as the heart of the film. Both Reno and especially a young Portman (in her film debut) are marvellous as the unlikely pairing but while they share some genuinely heartfelt moments, the boundaries are blurred with an uncomfortable, sexual subtext between them. Granted, this is formed through the romanticised eyes of a 12 year old and Leon is entirely innocent but it adds a different edge to their sentimental relationship. On the periphery, is the inclusion of a scenery-chewing Gary Oldman that adds a real sense of danger to the proceedings. His performance has been criticised for over-acting but personal I thought he was superb and it's ranks as one of my favourites from him.
What's most impressive about the film is Besson's assured hand and his ability in framing a scene; seemingly insignificant details play a massive part in the sheer beauty of this film while the dynamic music score by Eric Serra is a perfect accompaniment for Besson's sumptuous attention to detail and deliberate approach. Action movies rarely have such style but this is one that starts and ends with a bang and delivers a warm and affecting emotional core in-between.
A stylish, captivating and emotionally complex film that could comfortably be described as an art-house thriller.
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2009
Revenge is a tough game, even for a Professional.

Excellent Film! 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.

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.

Leon is an Italian immigrant who fled Italy after having committed a crime there. He now resides in New York City and is working for the mob boss "Uncle" Tony. He lives with his favorite plant in a small apartment in the city next door to a girl he occasionally speaks to whose father is a drug dealer working with crooked DEA officers. One day when she's out getting groceries the crooked agents murder her entire family in a botched drug deal and upon discovering the massacre upon her return home she walks to the end of the hall to Leon's apartment who let's her into not only his home, but into his life as well. Soon enough he's teaching Mathilda, a young girl, how to be a professional hitman in order for her to learn enough to get revenge on the crooked cops who murdered her family. But when she goes in for revenge and is captured by the crooked agents, Leon comes and saves her and so begins the ultimate theme in the movie: Will Leon and Mathilda live happily ever after now that's she's opened up his heart, or will the crooked cops have something to say about it?
Super Reviewer
½ September 2, 2012
A perfectly great film with fantastic performances and wicked cinematography. Portman is surprisingly powerful as a child, Reno is solid in the title role, but its Oldman who is the most electrifying. A truly great performance of a truly wicked man from a truly legendary actor. It's almost impossible to find a bad spot in 'Leon: The Professional' other than it is not entirely gripping. But it's cool, stylish, and packed with power in every aspect. Sounds like a great movie to me.
Super Reviewer
December 8, 2011
Another instant favourite film. How can you not love Jean Reno?? He is just adorable, even when he's being a professional killer! Natalie Portman was astonishingly intelligent and mature (I could hear her 25-year-old voice speaking to me out of that 13-year-old face), but she made me uncomfortable with her prepubescent sexuality.

Bottom line: Watch this film. It made me sad, made me laugh, made me curl up against my housemates (dreading the exquisite tension in the action choreography, and dreading the ever-entertaining Gary Oldman) but was not so violent that I had to cover my eyes at any point. Must watch again.
Super Reviewer
½ August 13, 2007
The best hitman movie ever, so ice cool so slick and quite emotional. Jean Reno's best subtle performance and Portman's best role also (as a kid) yet disturbingly hot. The action is first class and pinpoint, Oldman is crazy and his sidekicks are just waiting to be whacked hehe. The start sequence and finale are awesome, Luc Besson's best and the film that put Reno on the map in the west.
Super Reviewer
½ September 15, 2007
A near-masterpiece of an action/suspense flick concerning a illiterate, lonely hitman (Jean Reno) who reluctantly takes a young girl (Natalie Portman) under his wing after her entire family is murdered ruthlessly by courrpt DEA agents, led by a psychopath (Gary Oldman). The film is not to be taken literally, moreso a poetic, unique relationship between a beaten, battered veteran killer who is paired with an innocent, ambitious 12-year old, and it hits all the notes exactly right. The thing that makes this film a cut above your average thriller is Portman's performance, where she is asked to do ten times more than your usual child actor, and she delivers splendidly. Jean Reno's fabulous, understated turn is so special and so touching, it's hard not to fall in love with his character and pull for him all the way. Gary Oldman's over-the-top performance actually fits in perfectly for how cartoonish the police figures in this movie are displayed, as director Luc Besson wants no one to be confused as to who are the "good" guys here. Overall, a stylish, absorbing drama in which the primary relationship is irrefutably arresting, which makes the movie a treat from start to finish.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2011
Great Moive! Just lthe right amount of time and great performances. I love love loove Gary Oldman in this Film. I love him in all films but he is truly great in this one. Completely Mad, and completely entrancing. This man can do ANYTHING. He is also quite the looker in my oppinion. ;) Natalie Portman was fantastic as well...what a great starting role! Chech this one out!
Super Reviewer
May 29, 2011
A fantastic and utterly enjoyable film (despite the uncomfortableness I felt when Mathilda and Leon got a bit too close). Brilliant performances from Reno, Portman and Oldman; possibly their best performances. You never knew how the story was going to go which kept it entertaining and interesting and kept you in your seat. Although sad, we all know the Mathilda can cope and will survive. A great watch.
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2011
A potential date night movie about an assassin -- very rare. Although I'm a huge Gary Oldman fan (why is he always a crazed bad guy?), Jean Reno steals the show with his potrayal of a goofy and loveable cold-blooded killer. I'm still a little creeped out by 12-year-old bad-girl Natalie Portman though...

Not as good as the best Luc Besson film though... you know the one I mean.
Super Reviewer
September 7, 2006
An action movie masterpiece. Unstoppable and so totally unforgettable. An outstanding and explosive movie. Amazing performances all around from it's brilliant cast. Jean Reno is terrific, giving a breathtaking and outstanding performance. He is not just the best action hero France has but one of its best actors period. Natalie Portaman is remarkable, a star making performance. Gary Oldman is explosive, a charismatic, witty and fearless performance. A wickedly cool, slick, thrilling, deeply moving and tenderly emotional film. It has heart and alot of soul. It's spectacular and action-packed. Theirs lots of smart and well crafted action sequences. It's stylish, brilliant and extraordinary. Director, Luc Besson has created another riveting classic. A powerful action-thriller.
Super Reviewer
May 13, 2008
love it or hate it.... or think its okay.
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