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Léon: The Professional

A perfect assassin. An innocent girl. They have nothing left to lose except each other. He moves without sound. Kills without emotion. Disappears without trace. Only a 12 year old girl... knows his weakness. 

Year: 1994 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Luc Besson 
Starring: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman  
An image from Léon: The Professional

Buy Tickets on the SU Website:
18:30 Sunday 12th February 2023


As visually stylish as it is graphically violent, this thriller directed by Luc Besson concerns Mathilda (Natalie Portman), a 12-year-old girl living in New York City who has been exposed to the sordid side of life from an early age: her family lives in a slum and her abusive father works for drug dealers, cutting and storing dope. Mathilda doesn’t really care for her parents, but she has a close bond with her four-year-old brother.

One day, she returns home to discover that most of her family, including her brother, have been killed in a raid by corrupt DEA agents, led by the psychotic Stansfield (Gary Oldman). Mathilda takes refuge in the apartment of her secretive neighbour, Léon (Jean Reno), and discovers that he is a professional assassin. Wanting to avenge the death of her brother, Mathilda makes a deal with Léon to become his protégée in exchange for work as a domestic servant. However, a platonic relationship develops between Léon and Mathilda that changes Léon’s outlook on his life and career.

Besson’s first American film boasts a strong performance from Jean Reno, a scintillating debut by Natalie Portman, and a hyperbolic, yet disturbing turn by Gary Oldman.

Stephen Leach

Luc Besson, the gifted director who brought us “Nikita”, “The Big Blue” and “The Fifth Element” is behind “Leon”, the blacked out hitman, without a conscience when it comes to a hit, but who loves his POT plants and a nice glass of milk.

Set in New York this is a love story with a great difference and a great deal of ‘craft’ was used to bring it to the scene in this form. Besson uses his main characters of hitman (Jean Reno) and the orphaned waif (Natalie Portman) to great effect. One can see many other films that try to take this scenario and end up with just a violent and titillating film. Not Besson, this film is truly one of a kind in how it portrays the growth of feeling and love between the characters. Besson still shows us his trade mark of killing and terrible violence, set out almost like a dance macabre. Let us not forget New York’s ‘Finest’ in the form of pill popping policeman (Gary Oldman). He twitches his way through the film making this a film not for the weak stomachs but at only just over an hour and a half OK for those with weak bladders.


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Screenings of this film:

1995/1996 Autumn Term (35mm)
1995/1996 Autumn Term (35mm)
1995/1996 Autumn Term (35mm)
1995/1996 Autumn Term (35mm)
1999/2000 Summer Term (35mm)
2022/2023 Spring Term (35mm)