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Leon - The Professional (Deluxe Edition) (1994)

A movie directed by Luc Besson

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The Director's Cut Is Even Better

  • Jul 10, 2003
  • by
Rating:
+5
By accident, I stumbled upon this film while channel surfing one evening and watched it on television. Only later did I learn that its producer, director, and screenwriter (Luc Bresson) was also the driving force behind La Femme Nikita (1990) which I had already seen. There are several reasons why I find this film so fascinating. First, Jean Reno's Leon is thoroughly professional when completing his paid assignments as an assassin but proves emotionally vulnerable to his 12-year old neighbor Mathilda (Natalie Portman) when she suddenly has neither a family nor a home. Leon takes her in and, over time, she overcomes his reluctance to accept her as his apprentice. Obviously, she feels the need for formal training so she can avenge the loss of her family but also, I think, because she realizes that in the world she surveys, she must be able to protect herself against various enemies such as DEA supervisor Stansfield (Gary Oldman), her chief antagonist. His psychotic personality and violent behavior are at least partly explained by his dependence on drugs, of course, but also because he is determined to eliminate any and all threats to his professional authority and personal safety. To me, the most menacing person in the film, however, is mob boss Tony (Danny Aiello) who supervises Leon's assignments while carefully maintaining a public persona as affable merchant and devoted family man. When street smart Mathilda approaches him near the end of the film, she immediately recognizes his evil nature.

I also enjoyed the series of scenes in which Leon demonstrates his highly-developed professional skills. As in La Femme Nikita, Bresson effectively juxtaposes violence with sometimes unexpected tenderness. Those with a strong appetite for symbolism will probably have much to say about the potted tree plant which accompanies Mathilda and Leon from one residence to the next. I think it is a nice touch but not of major significance. I find it difficult to believe that this is Portman's first film, given the texture and nuances of her performance. Reno is superb throughout. Oldman probably had the most difficult role and is wholly credible as the corrupt DEA official. With regard to the film's conclusion, I commend Bresson for not tying up all the loose ends. Questions remain. For example, given all that has happened to Mathilda throughout the course of the film, what are her options now? Is she adequately prepared to cope with whatever may lie ahead? It would be interesting to check in on her at age 25 or 30. In the meanwhile, we can only speculate on the answers to such questions...and we'd probably be wrong.

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More The Professional reviews
review by . March 26, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The Professional, older film but worth looking for.
   Directed by Luc Besson. Starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman. Professional assassin Leon reluctantly takes care of 12-year-old Mathilda, a neighbor whose parents are killed, and teaches her his trade.      Well, that's their analysis.      A great film with a quiet and unassuming Frenchman who prefers milk to booze and whose prize possession is a plant. Natalie Portman in, what I feel is, her best work to date. Gary Oldman delivers …
Quick Tip by . January 04, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
An amazing movie for any number of reasons but for Natalie Portman ... She stood toe to toe with seasoned actors and director like she had been doing it in the womb.
Quick Tip by . May 04, 2011
Personally, I thought the US theatrical release of THE PROFESSIONAL was stellar entertainment ... but then I happened across LEON THE PROFESSIONAL, the original uncut international version ... and I was blown away, much like Leon's victims.  Luc Besson's original version is much deeper in characterization and motivation of his anti-hero, Leon (played superbly by Jean Reno). While the added footage gives the audience a bit more information about Leon's past, it also builds tremendously …
review by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Luc Besson's "Leon The Professional" is one of those rare and   wonderful films that both thoroughly conforms to cultural stereotypes   and time-tested plot structures and at the same time gives the viewer   such luscious details that it really makes you realize that so many of   our formulas have stood the test of time for a reason: humanity   paraphrases itself.      There, now that I've laid down all the …
review by . March 07, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
The Professional (U.S. Title) is about a lonely mob assassin, Leon, befriending a 12 year-old girl, Mathilda, whose entire family is murdered because her father ripped off drug dealers. The murders take place just outside Leon's apartment door. As Mathilda comes back from grocery shopping she sees the carnage and knocks on Leon's door, who reluctantly let's her in and saves her life.     The movie portrays a very unique and sweet relationship between Mathilda and Leon. Mathilda …
review by . June 08, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Luc Besson's "The Professional" raises the stakes of Besson's playful women-with-guns theme by making the heroine a 12-year-old, played by a then unknown Natalie Portman.    In "The making of The Professional" Besson says "If I imagine somebody in the street try to knock on my daughter, I kill the guy, in five seconds. I kill him, and I think "It's in me, I'm a beast!" On this part we can't forget that a part of us, the genetic things inside are much, much older than The Ten …
review by . August 01, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
The Professional (U.S. Title) is about a lonely mob assassin, Leon, befriending a 12 year-old girl, Mathilda, whose entire family is murdered because her father ripped off drug dealers. The murders take place just outside Leon's apartment door. As Mathilda comes back from grocery shopping she sees the carnage and knocks on Leon's door, who reluctantly let's her in and saves her life. The movie portrays a very unique and sweet relationship between Mathilda and Leon. Mathilda falls in the love (or …
About the reviewer
Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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Wiki

Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) made his American directorial debut with this stylized thriller about an Italian hit man (Jean Reno) who takes in an American girl (Natalie Portman) being pursued by a corrupt killer cop (Gary Oldman). Oldman is a little more unhinged than he should be, but there is something genuinely irresistible about the story line and the relationship between Reno and Portman. Rather than cave in to the cookie-cutter look and feel of American action pictures, Besson brings a bit of his glossy style from French hitsLa Femme NikitaandSubwayto the production, and the results are refreshing even if the bullets and explosions are awfully familiar.--Tom Keogh
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Details

Director: Luc Besson
Genre: Foreign
Screen Writer: Luc Besson
DVD Release Date: October 3, 2000
Runtime: 110 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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