Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
100 Greatest Videos Games Of All Time
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Empire Visits The Hobbit's VFX Team
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
4Music's Size Does Matter
Introducing your new favourite app
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Jean Reno
Gary Oldman
Natalie Portman.
Directors
Luc Besson.
Screenwriters
Luc Besson.
Running Time
110 minutes

LATEST DVD REVIEWS
Toxic Avenger, The
1 Star Empire Rating
Monster Club, The
3 Star Empire Rating
A New York Winter's Tale
2 Star Empire Rating
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
4 Star Empire Rating
Bound
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Calvary
5 Star Empire Rating
Ipcress File, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Jules Et Jim
5 Star Empire Rating
Nashville
5 Star Empire Rating
Hustler, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Leon
Luc Besson's moving, adrenaline-rushed and utterly absorbing tale of a reclusive assassin.


submit to reddit


Plot
A 12 year-old orphan girl is taken in by a ruthless assassin who -at her behest - trains her in the art of the hit man.


Review
Luc Besson follows Nikita and The Big Blue with another of his outrageously plotted, highly improbable but throughly enjoyable tales, this time focusing on a milk-drinking, plant-tending, Gene Kelly-loving Sicillian hitman in New York who adopts a young orphan after her family is murdered.

Besson regular Jean Reno stars as the eponymous assassin whose ruthless efficiency will have you on tenterhooks for the first five minutes. Thereafter, the film changes tack and goes not for the jugular, but the heartstrings.

When the family of his 12-year-old neighbour Mathilda (Portman) is killed by a shadowy bunch of characters led by a hammy Oldman, Leon finds himself as her surrogate father, teaching his young, precocious charge - at her insistence, mind you - how to load an automatic weapon or shoot politicans jogging in Central Park using a rifle with a telescopic sight, transforming her into a pre-pubescent version of Nikita. She, in return, teaches him to read and write and open up as a human being.

Driven by another electrifying score from Eric Serra, this features an astonishingly histrionic performance from Oldman, chomping drugs at every turn, and a touchingly affecting relationship between the stoic Reno and the quite extraordinary Louise Brooks-coiffured Portman in her first movie.

Despite its US setting, English dialogue and the presence of actors such as Gary Oldman and Danny Aiello, this is a fully fledged French arthouse film through and through, packed with incredible visuals, and featuring Besson's typical disregard for plot logic. There may well be something morally dubious about the idea of training a young girl in the ways of an assassin, but Besson manages to pull it all off with his typical flair and visual aplomb, instilling his narrative with an emotional centre hitherto lacking in his previous work. It's preposterous to be sure, but that's an essential part of its quality.


Extras

Leon Leon
Released: 05 June 2000
Not even a trailer for your troubles. Sacré bleu!


Verdict
Oozing style, wit and confidence from every sprocket, and offering a dizzyingly, fresh perspective on the Big Apple that only Besson could bring, this is, in a word, wonderful.


Reviewed by Mark Salisbury


Related Reviews

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Rogues Gallery: Powers Boothe
Sin City's Roark talks us through his most memorable baddies

Richard Attenborough: In Celebration
Saluting a man who made a lasting impact on cinema and beyond…

Exclusive: Luc Besson Talks Lucy
'There is no bullshit with Scarlett Johansson'

Video: Daniel Radcliffe Talks What If...
On Gordon Ramsay, swearing and date movies

The 24 Best Film-Related Ice Bucket Challenges
The viral craze that won’t quit takes in some of Hollywood’s finest

Who Shot First? The Complete List Of Star Wars Changes
An exhaustive chronology of George Lucas' post-release tinkering

Film Studies 101: A Film Buff's Guide To Movie Movements
Everything you need to know about cinema's key groups

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)