Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
100 Greatest Characters
Your all-time favourite heroes and villains
Subscribe To Empire
Sign up now and save 44%
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
Voices, The
3 Star Empire Rating
Home
2 Star Empire Rating
A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence
4 Star Empire Rating
X-Men: Days Of Future Past - The Rogue Cut
4 Star Empire Rating
Tale Of The Princess Kaguya , The
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Monty Python’s Life Of Brian [steel book]
5 Star Empire Rating
Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Goodfellas
5 Star Empire Rating
Apollo 13
5 Star Empire Rating
Mean Streets
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.


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Steven Seagal's Greatest Hits
Our leading Seagalogist charts the big man's finest moments

100 Greatest Movie Characters
Week 2 of your all-time favourite heroes and villains

10 Things To Look Out For At Comic-Con
Empire's look ahead to this week's big panels

Mirror Match: 10 Movies Where Your Evil Twin Attacks
A new challenger enters… and it’s YOU (but with bad facial hair)

Please Explain! With Arnold Schwarzenegger...
Plus Emilia Clarke on pranks, smiles and 'The Robot'

Bonfire Of The Vanities: When Personal Projects Go Wrong
15 hubristic horrors that went straight to movie jail

Hollywood Jackanory: Stars Reading Things Out Of Context
From Ian McKellen vs. One Direction to Hugh Jackman vs. baking innuendos

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month!

Subscribe and save 44%

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device

Subscribe and save 44%

Subscribe now and save up to 67%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)