<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5Rate this
Time Out saysBesson's first American movie begins promisingly with a stylish action sequence, but goes off the rails. Hitman Leon (Reno) lives in isolation in his starkly appointed New York apartment, but when a neighbouring family is massacred by corrupt cop Stansfield (Oldman) and his thugs, he becomes reluctant protector of 12-year-old Mathilda (Portman), who asks him to instruct her in the art of killing. Initial wariness between the two turns to something warmer, mutually affecting and sentimental. If this sounds familiar that's because it's so reminiscent of (but nowhere near as good as) Gloria. Leaving aside the question of paedophilia, the film is devoid of subtlety. Reno brings a likeably naive, quiet panache to his role; Portman is overbearingly cute and sassy; and Oldman is hammy. Besson fails to make much of New York's visual potential, and lazily asks that Leon's expertise be taken on trust. The shallowness was to be expected; the slackness is surprising.