Leon: The Professional is a 1994 crime drama film directed by Luc Besson, who also wrote and directed the film, La Femme Nikita. The movie follows the story of a hitman named Leon (Jean Reno), who takes a young girl named Mathilda (Natalie Portman) under his wing after her entire family is killed.
The story revolves around Leon, a solitary and highly skilled hitman who lives alone in a small apartment in New York City. Leon’s life takes a dramatic turn when he meets Mathilda, a 12-year-old little girl who lives in the same apartment building. Mathilda is being physically abused by her stepfather and neglected by her drug-addicted mother.
When Mathilda’s family is killed by a group of corrupt police officers led by the sadistic DEA agent Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman), she seeks refuge in Leon’s apartment. Leon initially resists Mathilda’s pleas for help but eventually agrees to take her in, as he sees a bit of himself in the young girl.
Leon, a hit-man, teaches Mathilda how to become a “cleaner,” an assassin who kills people for money. Mathilda is a quick learner and proves to be a valuable asset to Leon. As they spend more time together, Leon and Mathilda develop a deep bond and friendship, and Leon becomes a father figure to her.
Meanwhile, Stansfield and his team become aware of Mathilda’s existence and begin hunting her down. Leon and Mathilda team up to take down Stansfield and his corrupt team of police officers, while Mathilda wants revenge for the savage murder of her little brother. The film climaxes with an intense shootout in which Leon and Mathilda face off against Stansfield and his men.
The central characters in Leon: The Professional are complex and well-developed. Leon is a hitman who lives a solitary and disciplined life. He is a simple man and despite his violent profession as a paid killer, he has a strong moral compass and is fiercely loyal. 12-year-old Mathilda is a precocious and tough young girl who has experienced more trauma than any child should. She is smart, resourceful, and determined to seek vengeance for her family’s death. Stansfield is a sociopathic and sadistic DEA agent who is willing to do anything to get what he wants.
Oldman has often been praised for his ability to disappear into his roles, and his performance in Leon: The Professional was no exception. He fully immersed himself in the character of Stansfield, adopting a distinct and memorable manner of speaking and bringing a sense of menace and rage to every scene he appeared in.
Oldman’s performance in Leon: The Professional was a masterclass in acting. He brought a sense of menace and unpredictability to the character of Norman Stansfield, creating a villain who was both terrifying and captivating. His performance was a key factor in the success of the film and cemented his reputation as one of the most talented actors of his time.
A young Natalie Portman gave and unforgettable performance, which was remarkable, considering she was only 12 years old at the time of filming. Director Luc Besson has said that he was impressed by Portman’s intelligence, emotion and maturity during the casting process, and that he felt she was the perfect choice for the role of Mathilda. French director Luc Besson has also said that he wanted to create a character who was strong and independent, and that Portman embodied those qualities perfectly, helping to solidify her unusual relationship with Leon.
In Portman’s film debut role, “The Professional” helped to launch her career as an actress. She went on to star in a variety of films, including Star Wars and Black Swan, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. Despite her success, Portman has said that her experience filming Leon: The Professional was a unique and special one, and that she remains proud of her performance in the film.
Leon: The Professional is widely regarded as one of the best films ever made due to its unique storyline, great direction and cinematography and great performances. The film’s impact on popular culture and its legacy as a masterpiece, makes Leon: The Professional, a film worth watching.