Review: Léon: The Professional (1994)


Can a man be a cold killing machine and a sentimental human being at the same time? It seems like he can. Luc Besson’s crime thriller deals with a wide range of themes, yet the one that stands out is love.

Léon is a hitman and a good one. He is professional, skillful, trains every day and always follows his delicate set of rules. One of these rules (“No women, no children”) forces him to save the little girl-next-door’s life from the corrupted DEA agents who murdered her family. Despite being alone for a long time and reluctant to forge ties with anyone, Mathilda’s rebellious and at the same time sweet nature wins him over. The two of them adopt a life filled with killings, training, milk and some hilarious moments. As Léon’s past is unfold, it seems that Mathilda has finally restored his long lost emotional and affectionate self.

The film is quite thought-provoking with lots of symbolisms around, most notably Léon’s plant, the story of which is never explained in the film. Maybe it is a relic from his past or maybe it’s just a symbolic depiction of his personality’s well-hidden beauty. However, the most intriguing aspect of the film concerns the nature of the relationship Léon shares with Mathilda. Is it father-daughter relationship? Are they in love with each other? It never becomes clear. Well, I believe that trying to assign a tag here is wrong. Their bond has more than one dimensions and it is better to feel it I think rather than trying to describe it.

Acting is great throughout the movie. Jean Reno and Gary Oldman are amazing and Natalie Portman was at 12 still a sight to behold. The score is quite good too, effectively setting the mood in several scenes. In general, apart from a few unrealistic Mathilda lines that seem out of place for a 12-year-old girl, the film is flawless and even though it was released 22 years ago, it is as relevant and powerful as ever.