A PROFESSIONAL HITMAN, AN INNOCENT WITNESS, A CORRUPT DETECTIVE WHO WENT TOO FAR.
New York City hitman Léon Montana (Jean Reno) reluctantly lets a 12-year-old girl (Natalie Portman) into his life after her family is murdered by a corrupt DEA agent (Gary Oldman). One of Luc Besson’s most successful films is somewhat related to his La Femme Nikita (1990), as we follow another professional killer – and the girl who might very well grow up to join the business. The main reason why it’s worth watching is the performances of Reno and Portman (in her debut), an amusing, touching and odd couple who try to make sense of their new acquaintance while moving closer to a showdown with the psychotic DEA agent. A smorgasbord of bloody action and wild emotions, with an over-the-top performance by Oldman.
1994-U.S.-France. 109 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Patrice Ledoux. Written and directed by Luc Besson. Cinematography: Thierry Arbogast. Music: Eric Serra. Cast: Jean Reno (Leone ”Léon” Montana), Gary Oldman (Norman Stansfield), Natalie Portman (Mathilda Lando), Danny Aiello, Ellen Greene, Michael Badalucco… Maïwenn.
Trivia: French title: Léon. Also available in a 26 min. longer version.
Last word: “When it comes to ‘Léon’ I feel comfortable in New York because for me, in New York, you can be invisible. You can see someone lying on the street and no one will stop. Maybe not now, maybe they will stop now, but at the time … New York is so big that you can disappear. If you have no phone and no credit cards, no one knows where you are. The guy is coming from Italy. He’s an Italian guy, I have this European knowledge about it so I feel much more comfortable about shooting in New York. One more thing: you can’t shoot ‘Léon’ in France because in France in every building you have a concierge and she knows everything. She is glue with the police all the time so you can’t be invisible in Paris.” (Besson, Stumped Magazine)