Léon: The Professional

Critics 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.



Total Count: 61


Audience Score

User Ratings: 273,979
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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 of her family, including her brother, have been killed in a raid by corrupt DEA agents, led by the psychotic Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Mathilda takes refuge in the apartment of her secretive neighbor, Leon (Jean Reno), who takes her in with a certain reluctance. She discovers that Leon is a professional assassin, working for Tony (Danny Aiello), a mob kingpin based in Little Italy. Wanting to avenge the death of her brother, Mathilda makes a deal with Leon to become his protégée in exchange for work as a domestic servant, hoping to learn the hitman's trade and take out the men who took her brother's life. However, an affection develops between Leon and Mathilda that changes his outlook on his life and career. Besson's first American film boasted a strong performance from Jean Reno, a striking debut by Natalie Portman, and a love-it-or-hate-it, over-the-top turn by Gary Oldman. Léon was originally released in the U.S. in 1994 as The Professional, with 26 minutes cut in response to audience preview tests. Those 26 minutes were restored in the director's preferred cut, released in 1996 in France as Léon: Version Intégrale and in the U.S. on DVD as Léon: The Professional in 2000. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Gary Oldman
as Stansfield
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
Carl John Matusovich
as Mathilda's Brother
Keith A. Glascoe
as Stansfield's Man
Abdul Hassan Sharif
as Mathilda's Taxi Driver
Stuart Rudin
as Leon's Taxi Driver
Kent Broadhurst
as Policeman
Tommy Hollis
as Policeman
Peter Linari
as Security Man
Betty Miller
as Orphanage Headmistress
Joseph Malerba
as Stairway Swat
David W. Butler
as Important Jogger
Randy Pearlstein
as Security Guard
Marc Andreoni
as SWAT Team
Samy Naceri
as SWAT Team
Jernard Burks
as Stansfield's Man
George Martin
as Receptionist
Robert La Sardo
as Client #1
Mario Todisco
as Tony's Barber
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News & Interviews for Léon: The Professional

Critic Reviews for Léon: The Professional

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (44) | Rotten (17)

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

    Jun 4, 2014
  • Ultimately, like La Femme Nikita, there may be less here than meets the eye. But what does meet the eye is pretty darn thrilling.

    Jun 4, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 4, 2014 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • The Professional is strictly amateur-hour.

    Jun 4, 2014 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • Like Quentin Tarantino, Besson has a singular style and directorial sensibility that keeps you watching.

    Jun 4, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 4, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Léon: The Professional

  • Jan 30, 2016
    This endearing thriller was made a whole lot better by the superb performances especially from the young Natalie Portman and the great Gary Oldman.
    Maymay A Super Reviewer
  • Jul 14, 2015
    Though its narrative strength wavers during its more bombastic second half, The Professional remains a unique amalgam of genres -- and a showcase for the acting talents of Reno, Oldman, and a young Natalie Portman.
    Isaac H Super Reviewer
  • 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.
    Red L Super Reviewer
  • Nov 17, 2013
    Directors C Super Reviewer

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