Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin's trade.
After her father, mother, older sister and little brother are killed by her father's employers, the 12-year-old daughter of an abject drug dealer is forced to take refuge in the apartment of a professional hitman who at her request teaches her the methods of his job so she can take her revenge on the corrupt DEA agent who ruined her life by killing her beloved brother.Written by
J. S. Golden
All of the interiors of Léon's apartment were shot in Paris; all of the shots of the outside corridor were shot six weeks earlier in New York. See more »
When Mathilda follows Stansfield, we see him enter One Centre St. (which is an NYC Municipal office building.) She tells Leon he works at 26 Federal Plaza. See more »
Allora, come stai, Leone?
[Tony puts out his cigarette in an ashtray]
OK. OK. Let's talk business.
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Under the "SPECIAL THANKS" heading you will find: Chevalier KAMEN (Prince of the Mash Potatoes) Byblos Bill (King of Saint Tropez) Princess Trudy (Queen of Hearts) See more »
An extended cut, retitled 'Leon: version integrale' was released in French cinemas on June 26, 1996. This version is 26 minutes longer than the previously released version and includes, amongst others, one sequence that was removed from the film after the disastrous tests with L.A. preview audiences. This version of the film is available on various DVDs, and is usually called the 'International Cut'. New scenes found in the International Cut include:
Mathilda asking Leon to have sex with her and Leon refusing;
Leon explaining why he had to leave Italy and go to New York when he was 19 years old;
Mathilda and Leon sleeping together in a bed;
Mathilda threatening to shoot herself playing Russian roulette.
Leon and Mathilda hitting the home of a tattooed drug dealer, and setting fire to his supply of drugs;
New training missions where Mathilda learns the ropes of becoming an assassin.
Leon and Matilda going to a restaurant to celebrate her first hit
I have long thought that owning films on DVD or video is a waste of money - you watch them once and after that they are left to fester at the back of a cupboard. Occasionally I make an exception - some films simply cannot be fully appreciated on just one viewing. Every time I watch Leon is as gripping and enjoyable as the first. Sad, funny, violent, incredibly touching - few films manage to tick all the boxes and even fewer are about hitmen.
It obviously helps when your leading man has as much screen presence as Jean Reno. Thin and wiry with toilet brush hair and a face like a bag of spanners, he is hardly your typical gun-toting action hero, but he has an innocence and compassion that makes you fall for him instantly. Leon's life is as simple as a small child's: TV, lashings of milk and the odd gangland assassination. He cannot read, he doesn't sleep, he hasn't the trappings of family or wealth (the fees for his hits are habitually trousered by his `benefactor': sleazy small-time Italian gangster Tony (Danny Aiello)) - In short, he lives like a robot. And then he meets Mathilda.
Normally I can't stand Hollywood kids. They are all doey-eyed, bouffant-haired brats who can cry on cue and are always ready with a cutesy, smart-alec comment that will cause their adult co-stars to tinkle with laughter or tousle their hair playfully. Often they are kidnapped and huge ransoms demanded while their parents go demented with worry. I for one am usually rooting for the kidnappers.
Natalie Portman's Mathilda is the antithesis of these namby-pamby Dawson's Creek actors-in-waiting. For starters, she has something justifiable to gripe about, in that her entire family has just been slaughtered by Gary Oldman and his gang of crooked DEA officers. This is a bit of a blow, to say the least, but Mathilda takes it all in her stride and teams up with Leon in a bid for revenge. So begins one of the stranger relationships in silver screen history, but one of the most memorable.
On the face of it, a love story between a twelve year old girl and a hairy French hitman would raise a few eyebrows among more conservative movie-goers, but director Luc Besson handles it so beautifully, it seems like the most natural thing on earth. They are united in being totally alone in the world - indeed, the scene where Mathilda walks quietly down the corridor past the carnage in her apartment and knocks on Leon's door, imploring him in a tearful whisper to let her in is as breathtaking as it is heartbreaking. Leon is wary at first, but she soon wins him round and starts to gently bring him out of the shell.
Portman is truly astonishing - one can almost forgive her for being a part of the appalling Star Wars prequels on the strength of this one performance. The iconic image of this tiny, grubby little girl clutching Leon's beloved plant and trotting to keep up with her lanky hero's giant strides is one that will live long in the memory.
Aiello and Oldman (at his sadistic, malevolent best) provide predictably excellent support, there is a wonderfully suspenseful yet satisfying ending - heck, there's even a decent Sting song playing over the credits - for this (if nothing else) it would be remiss of me to give Leon anything other than top marks.
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