Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Professional (1994)
(aka Leon)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Professional (1994, Fr.) (aka Leon)

In writer/director Luc Besson's provocative action thriller - it presented the development of a redeeming but twisted father/daughter relationship between two very different individuals:

  • the solitary title character in 'Little Italy' was illiterate NYC mob hitman-assassin (or "cleaner") Leon Montana (Jean Reno), who worked for Mafia boss Tony (Danny Aiello) whose operation was fronted by a grocery store and Italian restaurant - the "Supreme Macaroni Company"
  • in the opening scene, Leon (in extreme close-up) was tasked by Tony to perform a hit for mobster Maurizio on an uncooperative, cocaine-dealing rival known as Fatman (Frank Senger)
  • in a tense sequence, Leon targeted Fatman who was being guarded while being given a one-hour massage by Blonde Babe (Maïwenn); after killing all of the bodyguards, Leon stealthily infiltrated into the room, held a knife to Fatman's throat, and compelled him to promise Maurizio that he would never deal in town again; Maurizio instructed Leon by phone: "Make sure he understands, then let him go"
  • street-wise, 12 year-old Mathilda Lando (young Natalie Portman in her film debut) was introduced, sneaking a cigarette in the stairwell of her multi-story walk-up apartment, after Leon returned home from buying two quarts of milk in the local store; there were signs of Mathilda's abuse - a black eye and bruises on the side of her face
  • Leon lived simply in dingy apartment #6D at the end of the hall - he kept an arsenal of weapons around his waist, meticulously ironed his own clothes, provided loving care for a favorite plant, performed exercises (sit-ups on his bed, etc.), and enjoyed a Gene Kelly movie at the theatre (It's Always Fair Weather (1955) - an excerpt from the roller-skating song "I Like Myself")
Leon's Daily Routine
  • a brutal murder spree of Mathilda's family was set up with background details - Mathilda's drug-dealing, cocaine-addicted father (Michael Badalucco) was lying to the DEA, led by corrupt, drug-addicted New York cop Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman); while stashing cocaine in his apartment for the DEA, he was lying about cutting some of the cocaine for himself; the father was warned that Stansfield could "sniff out" someone who was lying - and did so literally in the creepiest moment of the film
Mathilda's Dysfunctional Family

Mathilda's Abusive Father
(Michael Badalucco)

Mathilda's 'Mother'
(Ellen Greene)

Mathilda's Half-Sister
(Elizabeth Regen)
  • Mathilda's entire family was brutally slaughtered (while she was out grocery shopping) by Stansfield and his men, in this order: first, her whorish 'mother' Margie (Ellen Greene) in a bathtub, then her aerobics-loving older half-sister (Elizabeth Regen) and her 4 year-old brother (Carl J. Matusovich) in the hallway; before killing the father, Stansfield ominously told him: "We said noon. I've got one minute past"
  • fearfully, Mathilda walked by her apartment door and noticed the massacre, and then stood at Leon's door at the end of the hallway, knocking and begging Leon to let her in - eventually, she found safe refuge in Leon's apartment - although a photograph alerted Stansfield that there were three children - and one was missing and needed to be hunted down
  • Leon cared for, protected and entertained his orphaned NY neighbor Mathilda, first with his pet pig - an oven mitt, and slowly over time, he became a father-figure for her
Leon's Oven Mitt - Pig
  • Leon was initially reluctant to honor Mathilda's request to work for him, to learn about guns (how to 'clean' or kill), and earn money to avenge the murder of her younger brother: "How much would it cost to hire someone to get those dirtbags who killed my brother?...How about this: I work for you and in exchange you teach me how to clean. What do you think? Hmm? I'll clean your place, I'll do the shopping, I'll even wash your clothes. Is it a deal?"
  • in the middle of the night, Leon was impulsively inclined to murder Mathilda in her bed, but he changed his mind
  • during their first morning together, Mathilda announced: "I wanna be a cleaner" - but Leon rejected her idea: "Go clean. But not with me. I work alone. Understand. Alone?" - she convinced him to let her stay: "If you don't help me, I'll die tonight. I can feel it. But I don't want to die tonight" - she fired one of his guns out the window to prove she could do it; they slowly bonded and became partners as they decided to move to a hotel, the Hotel National
  • during a tutorial sequence, Leon taught Mathilda how to hit a scoped target with a rifle from a rooftop
  • Mathilda played a cute game of 'Guess Who I Am?" - when she dressed up as Madonna and sang "Like a Virgin", and then as Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday to You"; she also impersonated Charlie Chaplin and Gene Kelly singing "Singin' in the Rain" (the only one he recognized); he also played the game dressed up as John Wayne and gave two clues: ("OK, pilgrim" - a quote from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), and Wayne's familiar doorway stance from the conclusion of The Searchers (1956))
  • Leon described his love for his plant: "It's my best friend. Always happy. No questions. And it's like me, you see? No roots"; Mathilda suggested: "If you really love it, you should plant it in the middle of a park so that it can have roots...I'm the one you should be watering if you want me to grow"
  • Mathilda confessed her love to Leon: "Léon, I think I'm kind of falling in love with you. It's the first time for me, you know?...Cause I feel it....In my stomach. It's all warm. I always had a knot there and now it's gone"; she even told the astonished hotel desk clerk: "He's my lover"; her unwise bragging led to their having to move again
  • Leon refused to take the $20K that Mathilda had cleverly retrieved from her old apartment, to seek revenge against Stansfield - he reasoned: "Revenge is not good, Mathilda. Believe, it's better to forget...Nothing's the same after you've killed someone. Your life is changed forever. You'lI have to sleep with one eye open for the rest of your life"; she was adamant: "I want love or death. That's it"
  • she dared him to play a deadly game of Russian roulette (Mathilda: "If I win, you keep me with you. For life" Leon: "And if you lose?" Mathilda: "You'll go shopping alone. Like before"); as she was about to pull the trigger, she told Leon: "I love you, Leon" - and at the last possible moment, he pushed the gun away and it fired harmlessly in another direction; she declared: "I win"
  • during a quick montage sequence, Mathilda and Leon worked together to fool targets into opening their doors slightly (so that Leon could use wire cutters to snap the door security lock)
  • in an exciting sequence, Mathilda ill-advisedly pursued Stansfield by herself into his Dept. of Justice's DEA building (by posing as a food delivery girl), but she was personally ambushed by him in the bathroom; he confronted her up close when she clearly identified herself: "You killed my brother" - and he asked pointedly: "And you wanna join him?"; he then claimed: "Because I take no pleasure in taking life if it's from a person who doesn't care about it"; Stansfield was interrupted with news that a hitman had just killed Malky, one of his DEA agents involved in the murders of Mathilda's entire family - it was possibly "personal"
Mathilda's Mission to Take Out Stansfield

"You killed my brother"
"I take no pleasure in taking life if it's from a person who doesn't care about it"
  • Leon came to Mathilda's rescue after reading a note explaining her plan to take revenge on Stansfield in his DEA office, and killed two of Stansfield's men holding her in his office
  • although Leon refused to have sex with Mathilda, who requested it, she insisted that he do her one favor - they would share the bed from now on
  • Stansfield engaged in an assault on Leon's hotel room, and became exasperated that his men were being killed; he ordered one of his subordinates to bring him: "EEEVVVVEERRRYYYY - OOOONNNEEEEE!!!!" (echoing) in order to defeat the seemingly invincible hitman Leon
  • as Leon and Mathilda were being assaulted from every direction, he confided in her for the first time before they separated - showing that her humanity had rubbed off on him - finally: "You're not going to lose me, Mathilda. You've given me a taste for life. I want to be happy, sleep in a bed, have roots. You'll never be alone again, Mathilda. Please, go now, baby, go! Calm down, go now. Go, go. I'lI see you at Tony's. I'm gonna clean them all. Tony's in an hour. I love you, Mathilda"; Mathilda responded: "I love you too, Leon" - they said goodbye for the last time; she successfully escaped down a ventilator shaft
  • in the very bloody ending, Leon suffered a surprise self-sacrificial death; as he was about to escape (by impersonating a wounded officer), Leon was recognized by Stansfield and shot in the back of the head; as Leon was dying, he spoke to Stansfield who was straddling and standing above him: Leon: "Stansfield?" Stansfield (haughtily): "At your service." Leon: "This is from Matilda." (He put a grenade pin into Stansfield's clenched fist); Stansfield opened his hand and slowly recognized what it was, he ripped open Leon's vest, discovering several grenades attached to his chest; he muttered "S--t" before a massive explosion (off-screen); the pin had been pulled, and it set off some of the grenades
Stansfield's and Leon's Deaths
  • after Leon's death, Mathilda (as instructed) went to Tony's place (who was keeping Leon's funds for her, and gave her $100 for an allowance, and urged her to go back to school) - she told him: "I can clean," but he refused to let her work for him: "I ain't got no work for a 12-year-old kid! So get it outta your goddamn head! It's over, the game's over, Léon's dead! Ya hear me? Come on. Come on, you think I ain't hurtin', too? But he's dead. And you're gonna forget all this craziness and get your little ass back to school, capiche? Now take this money and get the hell outta here, and don't let me see your face 'till next month"
  • in a scene with orphanage headmistress Margaret McAllister (Betty Miller) at the Spencer School (Wildwood, NJ) - Mathilda devastatingly but truthfully described (after lying) about what had really happened to her - and why she had left school: "My family got shot down by DEA officers because of a drug problem. I left with the greatest guy on earth. He was a hitman, the best in town. But he died this morning and if you don't help me, I'll be dead by tonight"
  • in the final scene, Mathilda walked into a field to plant Leon's favorite houseplant in the ground outside her NJ school (she said to herself - the film's last line: "I think we'll be OK here, Léon") - as she had told Leon earlier: "to give it roots"

Leon Threatening Fatman

Introduction of Mathilda (Natalie Portman)

Leon Meeting Mathilda in Hallway

Corrupt New York DEA Agent Norman Stansfield
(Gary Oldman)

"Sniffing Out" Lies

Stansfield's Killing Spree ("One minute past (noon)")

"Please open the door"

Mathilda Finding Refuge in Leon's Apt.

Photograph of Three Children

"I wanna be a cleaner"


Practice Lessons with a Rifle on a Rooftop

Game: "Like A Virgin"

Mathilda's Confession of Love

Deadly Russian Roulette: "I love you, Leon"

Mathilda Rescued by Leon

Sharing the Same Bed

Stansfield's Assault: "(Bring me) Eeevvveerrry-yooonnneee"

Mathilda's Truthful Story to Headmistress

Mathilda: "I think we'll be OK here, Leon"


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