"I like these calm little moments before the storm. It reminds one of Beethoven."
- Stansfield (Gary Oldman) before he kills a family in a DEA raid.
"Is life always this hard, or is it just when you're a kid'"--Mathilda (Natalie Portman) "Always like this."
- Léon (Jean Reno)
"No women, no kids. That's the rules."
- Léon, instructing Mathilda on how to "clean"
Rolling Stone - 11/03/1994
"...Flying high on explosive action and sly wit, THE PROFESSIONAL gets the job done..."
Entertainment Weekly - 09/01/2000
"...Existential..." -- Rating: A - Recommended
Chicago Sun-Times - 11/18/1994
"...It is a well-directed film, because Besson has a natural gift for plunging into drama with a charged-up visual style. And it is well acted..."
Uncut - 08/01/2000
"The action scenes are explosive and skillful, the story genuinely moving."
Leon (Jean Reno) is a precise, calculating hit man--a consummate professional, with no family and no friends. However, he has casually befriended Mathilda (Natalie Portman, in an auspicious debut), a 12 year-old neighbor whose entire family, including her adored 4-year-old brother, is wiped out by some crooked DEA agents. The girl pleads with Leon to teach her how to be a "cleaner" and avenge her little brother's death. However, once she learns a few skills, Mathilda saunters into the DEA offices with the sole intention of killing the psychotic agent (Gary Oldman) who actually masterminded the executions. But her intended victim turns the tables on her, and Leon must rescue her. LEON was French director Luc Besson's first film shot in America.
Coming Of Age |
Hit Men |
New York City |
Theatrical Release |
Theatrical Release: September 30, 1994 (U.S.)
Color by Technicolor. Shot in Technovision Anamorphic on location in New York City and Hoboken and West New York, New Jersey. In SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound.
Clip used from the film "It's Always Fair Weather" (with Gene Kelly dancing on rollerskates) and the television show "Transformers."
Additional cast: Willie One Blood, Don Creech, Keith A. Glascoe, Randolph Scott, Jernard Burkes, Matt De Matt (Stansfield's Men); Elizabeth Regan (Mathilda's Sister); Carl J. Matusovich (Mathilda's Brother); Frank Senger (Fatman); Luc Bernard (Mickey); and George Martin (Hotel Receptionist).
Additional credits: Bernard Grenet (line producer); John Garland (line producer NY); Chris Silano (Steadicam); Gérard Drolon (art director); François Groult & Bruno Tarriére (rerecording mixers); Pascal Chaumeil, Eric McGinty (NY), Camille Lipmann, James Bradney (New York) (assistant directors).
On June 26, 1996, the 132 minute "director's cut" of the film was released theatrically in France. This version included 26 minutes of additional footage, including scenes of the 12-year-old Mathilda attempting (unsuccessfully) to seduce Leon.
Rated BBFC 18 by the British Board of Film Classification.