Léon: The Professional (1994) Movie Review

He Has OCD And She Has Daddy Issue…

Luc Besson’s first Hollywood hit are many things if not unconventional. I don’t know if it’s bad to say this, but Leon: The Professional is very very French. I love French cinema and most of them are even better than Hollywood products, so it’s not surprising when I find myself watching an unconventional plot, bizarre characters, and one gory detail film. Leon doesn’t feel fake to me, because right from the start the movie doesn’t trick you into thinking it’s a nice and a feel-good movie, because you know it is not.

The film explores the relationship between two random souls thrown together by some twisted fate and given the large age gaps between the two characters is bound to make you uncomfortable. Right uncomfortable is the precise feeling I have while watching this flick. I am glued to my seat, dying to know what is going to happen to the poor girl, but I also remember holding my breath, trying to convinced myself nothing “sexual” is going to happen between them. Luc Besson is a good director, but even more so he is a better writer (he both writes and directs this film). From The Fifth Element, Taxi to Taken, Luc Besson knows what works and what doesn’t in a film. The fast-pace directing also helps the movie, putting itself far ahead from your typical blockbuster. Plus, look at the gorgeous cinematography the film has to offer, I’ve never seen New York City that gloomy in any other films.

Playing the “cleaner” a.k.a Leon: The Professional is our French actor, Jean Reno, and he did very well. From the very start we have guessed that Leon might be socially awkward. Not just because of his occupation (hit men are not social butterflies!) that requires him to be alone, but because he is the type of person who will not fit in. Leon lives alone, loves his plant like his own child and sleeps on the sofa with his shades on. Now enter Mathilda, his 12 year-old neighbor who Leon rescued after her family was butchered savagely by the corrupt DEA agent. Mathilda is played by one of my favourite actress Natalie Portman. This is Natalie’s break out role and she did marvelous. Seriously, I know we have Chloë Moretz or Hailee Steinfeld now days, but I doubt they can act the way Natalie did here.

I understand people have their own perceptions of Leon and Mathilda relationship. But my analysis is that I think it’s possible for Mathilda to fall in love with Leon because she never has a father figure in her life. She mistaken her longing for father figure with deep romantic bonding, which makes perfect sense given her age and circumstances. Where else Leon, the social outcast hit man also long for connection with another human being. I know in the original screenplay director Luc Besson meant them to be lovers, but I am glad he scratched it off. Not because it would be taboo or even banned in some countries, but because it’s simply unreasonable. I love Leon and Mathilda, I think they are two well-written characters that are meant to be remembered for years to come.

My favourite scene is when Leon and Mathilda play charades – Natalie Portman dressed up as Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin is guaranteed to make you laugh. That scene also perfectly sums up their unorthodox relationship.

When all is said and done, Leon: The Professional is one odd film. The film can’t be classified as action or drama, because it’s meant to be both. You will laugh, you will cursed at the bad guys, you will feel sad when Natalie Portman cries and of course, you will feel very uncomfortable seeing these two on your screen.



8 thoughts on “Léon: The Professional (1994) Movie Review

  1. sidekickreviews

    I saw this for the first time last year. Neat seeing a young Portman before she became super famous. It would have been weird if her character and Leon were lovers, good idea to scrap that. Great review!

  2. 13mesh

    Gary Oldman was pretty wacko here, huh? It’s weird to see him so young, though. Hahaha thanks buddy!

  3. 13mesh

    Natalie Portman is always destined to be super famous and this film proves it. I know right, it would be too weird to handle if Luc actually goes with it hahaha. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. CMrok93

    Good review. By far Besson’s best movie. Probably his last really good one, too. The Fifth Element was good, but that was just bonkers. This one at least was grounded in some humanity and got very emotional towards the end.

  5. 13mesh

    I agree. Although I like The Fifth Element mostly because it’s such ab absurd sci-fi movie, but it lose points plot wise.

    I am looking forward to Besson’s new movie with Johansson. Caught the trailer few days ago, seems alright. Have you seen it, Dan?

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