After browsing the titles on Netflix for what felt like an eternity this Saturday afternoon, I found myself stumbling upon a film I’d heard about from my father. Now, you see, this is a film that is very typical of my dad to watch; it contains action and a twisted ending that most aren’t expecting to hurt you. I didn’t go into this movie knowing what sort of things would happen, and I feel a little bit betrayed by the director and writer of this tale: he had my trust that nothing terrible would happen to Leon.
The movie title is Leon: The Professional. It is the story of a Hitman who lives near a little girl who is far too grown up in her own body, their first true encounter happening when the girl sits on the apartment staircase smoking a cigarette: she is twelve years old. Her father has gotten into some risky business and cheated the wrong man in an attempt to steal 10% of a dope share. In the end, Matilda (the girl) narrowly escapes being killed by the man who brutally wiped out her family thanks to Leon.
The character dynamics in this movie are some of my favorite, I have to say. Leon is an immigrant to the United States, living beneath the roof of an Italian man who smuggled him into the States and whose life belongs to him. He is illiterate, but learning, and his main profession is ‘Cleaning’, which we can assume means wiping the floor with anyone he’s told to kill. However, Leon’s one rule is “No women, no kids” that he reveals to a persistent Matilda. Stubborn and seemingly-fearless, this twelve-year-old girl wishes to be like Leon and learn how to take lives for a lump sum of cash if only to get back at the disgusting man who killed her little brother.
This unlikely duo is forced to move several times due to Matilda’s antics as a young girl with confusing thoughts in her mind or brazen actions, but Leon manages to stick with her until the very end despite her many flaws. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it is an emotional one that you wouldn’t expect out of an action film like this. It certainly touched my heart and I needed to take a mental stroll to relieve myself of what had just unfolded.
The last line is really what hits you, I think, as Matilda speaks to what Leon proclaimed to be his best friend; a house plant that he tended to.
“I think we’ll be okay here, Leon.”