Leon

Besson'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.

Release details

Duration: 110 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Luc Besson
Screenwriter: Luc Besson
Cast: Natalie Portman
Michael Badalucco
Gary Oldman
Ellen Greene
Danny Aiello
Jean Reno
Peter Appel

Average User Rating

4.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|11
1 person listening
scrumpyjack

First time I've read this review since publication (In the late 80's and the whole of the 90's I hit the west end cinemas and bought T.O. weekly) I remember this one above perhaps all as it was SO wide of the mark. LEON remains to this day one of the most exciting cinema viewings of my life and can recall coming out dazed, going straight to the box office and buying another ticket for the next show! (something i've ever done 3 other times) It showed at my local a few weeks later on their crappy smallest screen so I avoided it there and watched it again in London. Ive owned it on Lazerdisc, VHS (to take to friends) and dvd and shown it to well over 30 people over the years and NOT ONE hasn't at least thought it excellent (and it of course has provoked a lot of discussion) Nonsense review, but it was always going to be too "main stream" for Geoff Andrew. One last thing - "Leon's expertise be taken on trust" wtf does THAT mean. Do we need a montage of leon training since he was 17 or something? GREAT film, Classic.

scrumpyjack

First time I've read this review since publication (In the late 80's and the whole of the 90's I hit the west end cinemas and bought T.O. weekly) I remember this one above perhaps all as it was SO wide of the mark. LEON remains to this day one of the most exciting cinema viewings of my life and can recall coming out dazed, going straight to the box office and buying another ticket for the next show! (something i've ever done 3 other times) It showed at my local a few weeks later on their crappy smallest screen so I avoided it there and watched it again in London. Ive owned it on Lazerdisc, VHS (to take to friends) and dvd and shown it to well over 30 people over the years and NOT ONE hasn't at least thought it excellent (and it of course has provoked a lot of discussion) Nonsense review, but it was always going to be too "main stream" for Geoff Andrew. One last thing - "Leon's expertise be taken on trust" wtf does THAT mean. Do we need a montage of leon training since he was 17 or something? GREAT film, Classic.

messiahontrial

I'm wondering where these critics are coming from ? What planet are they inhabiting ? This movie was exceptional. Why ? Because the acting was superb, especially the three main protagonists (I thought Oldman was outstanding as the drug-induced 'bent' copper) and Reno and Portman played perfectly opposite each other. The juxtaposition of Leon's character, his 100% ability and commitment in his profession and his 0% ability in relationships was portrayed brilliantly by Leno. Portman too, was excellent at conveying the 'sassy' nature of adolescence`and the vulnerability of a 12 year old who has lost everything. Even Danny Aiello, as the mob boss supposedly paying leon's wages was excellent. I can't fault this movie, even the ending had a twist ! Whoever is paying this critic's wages wants to re-examine where he's spending his money - not wisely in my humble opinion. This movie is highly recommended and worthy of a 5* rating.

messiahontrial

I'm wondering where these critics are coming from ? What planet are they inhabiting ? This movie was exceptional. Why ? Because the acting was superb, especially the three main protagonists (I thought Oldman was outstanding as the drug-induced 'bent' copper) and Reno and Portman played perfectly opposite each other. The juxtaposition of Leon's character, his 100% ability and commitment in his profession and his 0% ability in relationships was portrayed brilliantly by Leno. Portman too, was excellent at conveying the 'sassy' nature of adolescence`and the vulnerability of a 12 year old who has lost everything. Even Danny Aiello, as the mob boss supposedly paying leon's wages was excellent. I can't fault this movie, even the ending had a twist ! Whoever is paying this critic's wages wants to re-examine where he's spending his money - not wisely in my humble opinion. This movie is highly recommended and worthy of a 5* rating.

laura

how can you say it 'goes off the rails' ! have you even listened to Luc Besson talking about this movie? It's a film about true, pure love not desire and paedophilia. Leon is like a child- hence the symbolism of him drinking milk, and Mathilda has lost everything. She is at an age where she wants a family, except hers has been taken away from her. She becomes a daughter, a mother and a lover to Leon, just as he becomes Father, son and lover to her. It's a beautifully crafted film about pure love.

laura

how can you say it 'goes off the rails' ! have you even listened to Luc Besson talking about this movie? It's a film about true, pure love not desire and paedophilia. Leon is like a child- hence the symbolism of him drinking milk, and Mathilda has lost everything. She is at an age where she wants a family, except hers has been taken away from her. She becomes a daughter, a mother and a lover to Leon, just as he becomes Father, son and lover to her. It's a beautifully crafted film about pure love.

Mimi

*sighs* it's like you critics don't get it. I've seen Gloria honey, and it comes nowhere near this movie. Also, if you're going to submit a serious review, learn to spell, okay?

Mimi

*sighs* it's like you critics don't get it. I've seen Gloria honey, and it comes nowhere near this movie. Also, if you're going to submit a serious review, learn to spell, okay?

cucu

that film kills me it is bery funny and good, on the images, sound camerra effects.etc. it's relly good and i enjoy it whit my friends, they were scared to deaht, that was the most funny part of seen the movie, congratulations i'll give this a four stars bay . kissess cucu.