Professional killer Jean Reno reluctantly takes in a 12 year old girl after her family is murdered by corrupt police detectives.
Luc Besson’s mix of offbeat characters, humour and high octane action tends to be a little hit and miss, but in Leon he found the perfect balance between sensitive character study, emotion and tense action sequences. Pot plant loving, milk drinking loner Reno is the antithesis of the usual testosterone-soaked, Gung Ho action hero and with no glib one liners or macho posturing, he takes no pleasure in the mayhem he induces; he’s just very, very good at it. His relationship with a young Natalie Portman is sincere, funny and touching, and although emotionally ambiguous – at least from her adolescent point of view – it never crosses the line into sexual creepiness.
Complimented by an excellent supporting cast – especially pill popping psychopath Gary Oldman who is the perfect foil for Reno’s solitary hit man – and wonderfully scored Leon is easily Besson’s best work and one of the best action thrillers around.