[Mathilda, crying about her brother’s murder and her stepmother] “I was more of a mother to him than that goddamn pig ever was!” – Mathilda
“Hey, don’t talk like that about pigs. They’re usually much nicer than people.” – Leon
The Professional or Leon: the Professional is a film that was released in 1994 and I had the chance to see the extended version on Bluray. The extended edition of the film, the verison I saw, was originally released in 1996.
Mathilda Lando is the protagonist of the movie. She is 12 year old girl living with abusive family in a dingy apartment. In the beginning of the film, her family was murdered by Norman Stansfield and his men. After her family’s murder, she is taken in by Leon and harasses him to teach her how to be a cleaner. She has a huge crush on Leon and makes advances on him constantly to no success.
Leon aka Leone Montana is the kind of titular hitman. He is a cleaner that is extremely good at his job. Although he does not go too deeply, he has a tragic past he does not like to talk about. Despite hijob, he is very innocent at heart, to a point where it can even be child like.
Norman Stansfield is the main antagonist of the film. He is extremely unstable but intelligent villain. He is careful and observant, just very VERY unstable.
The story follows the events that unfold for poor Mathilda. Her father is tangled in some drug business and him and his entire family sans Mathilda is gunned down by Norman Stansfield and his men. She then asks Leon, her apartment-mate, for help and he takes her in.
Fueled by vengeance, Mathilda asks Leon, a professional hitman, to teach her how to kill. Despite Leon’s protests, she convinces him to teach her.
The side plot is what makes people uncomfortable. Mathilda, a 12 year old girl, is in love with Leon, who is a lot older. She makes constant advances and tries to seduce him on a few occasions. Luckily, Leon is a decent man and avoids this like the plague.
-the Bad / Controversy-
Honestly, there is nothing here I had a problem with. So I will talk about the elephant in the room: pedophilia, are you uncomfortable yet?
As mentioned before, Mathilda tries to seduce Leon multiple times. Here are some instances from top of my head: She asks Leon to kiss her in the restaurant, she tells Leon that it is very important time for her sexual growth and he should do something about it, and she tells him that she is in love with throughout the movie. The scene where most controversy rises seem to be the pink dress scene where she wears the dress Leon got her and asks him to say he likes it.
People say that this may be one of the creepiest movie, and it would be a lie if I said I was comfortable throughout the whole movie, let me explain. Many scenes of the movie we see Mathilda dressed very sexually, aka lot of skin, there are times she is seen in her undies, and seeing a child seducing an adult is obviously uncomfortable. BUT I was okay with it since Leon himself does not reciprocate her feelings in any way. He maintains father-daughter relationship with her during the whole film.
The closest the two of them were together was that time where Leon and Mathilda slept in the same bed. Please note, nothing else happened. Leon, being man of darker side of society, always sleeps on his chair with one eye open. And Mathilda could not stand seeing him like this, and asked him to take a break. Next morning, you even see Leon enjoying the comfiness of the bed, that was rather cute.
And from Mathilda’s point of view, I think it makes sense. I think many children one time or another has a crush on someone older, typically someone in power. Many kids, both boys and girls, has had crush on their teachers, baby-sitters, or even older neighbors, and I don’t think it is any different here. What is different though, is that Mathilda is a lot more forward towards her object of affection than most children her age. Although the way she is dressed is very racy, I still think it makes sense. I mean just look at her mother. The main woman figure in her life dresses like that so I think it makes sense that she is dressed similarly. And for the undie scenes, I think Mathilda and Leon are desperate in mental capacity as they have people to kill and people who might be after them.
If one thing that is creepy, I would say is how the movie is filmed. In that it was originally going to have romance bloom between Leon and Mathilda, glad that did not happen. The lighting and the dialogues were uncomfortable at times, but that was about it. Okay, now with this out of the way, let’s move on.
The movie is fantastic. Watching Leon doing his thing is awesome. Leon reminded me of John Wick, in that he is brutal and unfeeling when it comes to doing his job.
Going back to relationship between Leon and Mathilda, it’s very sweet. Leon is a man who only does work, and Mathilda is a girl who lost everything. Mathilda shows Leon the joy of life and family which he has not felt in so long, while Leon provides stability and guidance for Mathilda.
While movies like John Wick shows the mysticism of the underworld, The Professional more or less shies away from it. Apart from Leon, Tony is the only other underworld character we see. And this restraint on content was very admirable. While were at it, let’s talk about Tony.
Tony is more or less Leon’s boss. He is the one that finds work for Leon and more importantly has Leon’s money. He is extremely sketchy, and I genuinely don’t know if he can be trusted. Obviously, Leon trusts him, but he never gives Leon his money back…. And this uncertainty of trust is what I think makes him great.
And the last “character” I have not mentioned yet is the plant. This is Leon’s best friend until he meets Mathilda. Throughout the whole film, we see Leon taking care of this plant ever so carefully. The plant may be symbol for life growth, and even innocence, or maybe I am speaking out of my butt. But the focus and importance placed on the plant was great!
- Will I watch it again? Most definitely!
- Do I recommend it? Yes, most certainly!
This was a fantastic film, and I have no idea why it took me so long to get around to watching this film. It was great, and I think many others will like it.