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Leon (1994)

A killer and a child are changed forever by each other

Directed by:

Luc Besson

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 106 minutes

UK Certificate: 18


Natalie Portman plays Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl who lives in New York with her step-family. She has a close relationship with her little brother, but otherwise her life is a misery. Her father is involved in handling drugs for a crooked cop called Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman). One day, Mathilda encounters Leon (Jean Reno), a fellow tenant of the apartment block and professional hitman, and a relationship begins to form between them. Mathilda is out shopping for Leon when Stansfield kills the rest of her family for thinning out the drugs a little, and ultimately she takes refuge in Leon's apartment.

Desperate for revenge on her family's killers, Mathilda begs Leon to teach her his skills. Soon she has wormed her way into every part of his unusual life. Leon does his best to keep her out of trouble, and a father/daughter bond forms between the two of them. Leon however has little experience of being either a father or a friend, and is unable to prevent Mathilda from pursuing her vendetta against Stansfield.

This is a wonderful film, in that it gets so many things right. The story, which at first glance is corny and silly, actually becomes gripping and emotional in the hands of the skilled Jean Reno and Natalie Portman. The characters are sympathetic and likeable, and one is touched by the depth of the relationship between Leon and Mathilda. There is real danger and drama throughout the film, yet it never becomes merely an action film – the characters are too significant for that. Besson, as always, both makes the film look beautiful and builds plenty of atmosphere into it.

It's Got: Superb characterisation by Jean Reno and Natalie Portman.

It Needs: A little more pace in the middle.

DVD Extras No Extras. DVD Extras Rating: 0/10


Nikita, Road to Perdition


An outstandingly touching film, genuine, yet with plenty of tension and drama. This one will appeal to a wider audience than just Besson fans, and is well worth taking the time to see.

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