Léon: The Professional Ending Explained & Plot Analysis

Leon (original title Léon: The Professional) is a twisted action movie with dramatic overtones and deep meaning. Despite the fact that more than a quarter of a century has passed since the premiere of the film, it looks in one breath, and does not lose popularity among real movie gourmets. Let’s try to figure out what the essence of the film “Leon” (1994) is, and how this work of Luc Besson attracts the audience.

Country : France, USA

Genre : action, thriller, crime

 Year of production : 1994

Directed by : Luc Besson

Cast : Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, Danny Aiello, Peter Appel

tagline : “You can’t stop someone you can’t see”

Awards and Nominations : No. 31 on IMDb’s Top 250 Movies

What is the movie about

In the generally accepted sense, “Leon” is a classic action movie, the meaning of which boils down to mafia showdowns. However, the essence of the film is much deeper than it might seem at first glance. To find an explanation for the key points, let’s start with a description of the plot of the film “Leon”. Actions are unfolding in the United States of America, so let’s move to one of the districts of New York, which is called Little Italy.

Jean RenoJean Reno played the main role of the killer Leon. Frame from the film.

His name is Leon (actor Jean Reno). Many years ago, he emigrated to the US from Italy, and since the age of 19 he has been working for a man named Tony. Leon makes a living by contract killings and is a professional in this field.

Among hitmen for hire, professionalism is measured by the distance from the killer to the victim. Beginners begin to work at a distance, using sniper rifles. The gurus of this small workshop use a knife, approaching the victim closely. Leon belongs to the latter, and in his work he resembles an elusive shadow that sows death among the guards of its target, invariably fulfilling even the most complex orders.

He has his own code of honor: Leon never kills women and children. In life, it may seem strange. Every day he drinks two packs of milk, enthusiastically watches old musicals, not at all embarrassed that he is sitting in the cinema hall almost alone.

He has no friends, his only pet is an evergreen plant, which our hero carefully looks after. Masterfully handling any weapon, Leon cannot read and write, although he practices a little at home. He does not need money, because the elusive killer is content with little and lives in almost Spartan conditions. His money is kept with Tony, which, in his own words, is “much more convenient and safer than in a bank.”

Her name is Matilda Lando (actress Natalie Portman). An ordinary 12-year-old girl from a dysfunctional family. Matilda’s father Michael trades in dark deeds, often beating his daughter. Matilda lives like a servant. Mothers don’t care about her, the girl annoys her older sister, and only Matilda has an ideal relationship with her younger brother.

Matilda LandoThe role of Matilda Lando was played by a young Natalie Portman. Frame from the film.

Once Michael “dumped” the police from the drug department, who themselves distribute the “goods” in Little Italy. The leader of this corrupt gang is Detective Norman Stansfield. Norman gives Michael a day to find the missing part of the drug shipment, which he was given for safekeeping. The man ignored the demand, for which he paid the price. Stansfield, along with his subordinates, killed the entire family, except for Matilda, who was not at home at that moment.

What can a contract killer and a teenage girl have in common? Initially, nothing. They just live next door and once exchanged a couple of phrases in the entrance of the house. On the day of the murder, Matilda went to the store and promised Leon to bring two cartons of milk. Returning, the girl saw the corpse of her father. She walked past her door and called Leon’s apartment. After a little hesitation, he let her in.

The girl quickly discovers the killer’s “tool” in a neighbor’s half-empty apartment and asks to teach her everything. She wants to avenge the murder of her brother, but she has no money: Leon takes 5 “pieces” per head. Then she offers to help with the housework. After hesitating, Leon agrees.

Now they become inseparable: flower, Leon and Matilda. The killer teaches his ward the basics of the craft, she helps with the housework, teaches him to read and write. Unexpectedly for himself, Leon becomes attached to the girl, experiencing fatherly feelings. They even work together: Matilda helps him infiltrate the homes of his victims. However, the girl has very specific goals: she wants to kill Norman and his people.

Gary OldmanGary Oldman played the role of Norman Stansfield. Frame from the film.

She tracks down Stansfield and even breaks into the police department, pretending to be a food delivery man. However, an experienced detective sensed surveillance. He catches Matilda in the toilet, where she followed him, and is about to kill her. The girl is saved only by the fact that one of Norman’s subordinates enters and reports the murder of their colleague, Malka. The killer is Italian, so Stansfield contacts Tony and learns about Leon from him.

Returning home, Leon discovers notes from Matilda, understands everything and goes to save her. He gets the girl out of the police station, killing two of Norman’s subordinates. Special forces are drawn to the house where Leon and Matilda live. A shootout ensues. The house is surrounded. In the bathroom, Leon punches a hole in the ventilation shaft, through which he throws out a flower and lowers Matilda. The girl realizes that the hole is too narrow for an adult man to climb through. However, Leon tells her that he loves her too, and promises to clear everyone in an hour and return.

He manages to escape from the surrounded apartment, putting on a mask and uniform of one of the killed commandos. He almost left, but Stansfield overtook him near the exit. A corrupt cop is hovering over the body of a dying hitman as Leon hands him a gift from Matilda, a grenade ring. There is a powerful explosion.

killer and girlNatalie Portman, Jean Reno in the lead roles. Frame from the film.

First, the girl goes to Tony and asks to give her a job. He screams that he has no job for the children, but promises to give her the money earned by Leon. But not now, but when the girl grows up. Matilda returns to the school that her father once paid for, but she left her. The headmistress agrees to take the girl back. In the final scene, Matilda digs in Leon’s flower on the lawn near the school, saying that they will be fine here.

What meaning did Luc Besson put into the content of his painting? Let’s try to figure it out.

Léon: The Professional Ending explanation

The meaning of the ending of the film “Leon” follows from its description. The killer is lonely, he has no roots – a personal attachment to someone. Tony is his partner and confidant. The killer’s only friend is the flower he cares for. In the story, Leon once remarks that the flower also has no roots. To which the girl advises him to dig a plant in the park, where it will feel good, and it will be able to take root.

natalie portman and flowerFrame from the film.

At the end of the film, Matilda digs in a flower on the lawn near the school. She was left all alone, she no longer has a person who can take care of her. At the same time, the girl no longer has a goal in life – Stansfield and his people are killed, Matilda’s brother is avenged.

Planting a flower in the ground, she seems to anchor in this place. The meaning of the finale can be interpreted as follows: Matilda will grow up and be able to lead a normal and prosperous life. She has money for this. Even after death, Leon took care of his ward. This is the most logical explanation for the ending, but each viewer can fantasize the final story on their own. For example, it can be assumed that Matilda will follow in the footsteps of Leon.

The meaning of the film Léon: The Professional

Despite the fact that we are talking about a famously twisted action movie, Luc Besson put a different meaning into his work. Here the murders and all other action fade into the background. Feelings play the main role here. Matilda sincerely loves Leon. He appears to her as strong and fearless, which he really is. She talks about this to her mentor throughout the film.

Leon himself cannot understand himself. However, apparently, paternal feelings wake up in him. He brings up Matilda the way he knows how. He takes with him to work, treats him to champagne in a restaurant, firmly believing that she is already 18 years old.

At the same time, Leon encounters reciprocal feelings for the first time. He learns what gratitude and simple human warmth are. Only with Matilda does he sleep peacefully for the first time in his life, although before that he claims that he can sleep with one eye open. Here, according to the girl, he “snores like a baby.”

Matilda replaced his daughter and mother. This is his family, which never existed. That is why he does not hesitate to save her from the police station, although he understands that he has become entangled in a story from which there is no way out. He lets Matilda leave, and before dying, he fulfills her last request – he kills Stansfield. Leon is himself – he always gets the job done. However, this time, he did not just eliminate the victim in order to earn another “5 grand”. He made Matilda free, albeit at the cost of her own life.

girls training

From this we can conclude that the main meaning of the film “Leon” is self-sacrifice. The hired killer gave the girl hope for a future that he himself did not have.


How old was Natalie Portman during filming?

Natalie Portman was born on June 9, 1981. In “Leon” the actress is 13 years old. Her heroine is 12.

Why did the hero drink milk?

There are no accidents in good cinema. Leon drinks milk, this is a touching characterization of the character, she says that this brutal killer has an innocent nature. At heart, he is a child who dreams of warmth and care.

What films are similar in spirit and plot to the drama “Leon”?

• “Wasabi” (France, Japan, 2001). Commissioner Hubert Fiorentini travels to Japan to track down his daughter, whose existence he recently learned, and finds himself embroiled in a showdown with the Yakuza.
• The Great Equalizer (USA, 2014). Retired commando Robert McCall works as a store clerk, but one day a man’s life changes dramatically when he decides to buy a young prostitute from the Russian mafia.

• “Mechanic” (USA, 2011). A few days in the life of a professional killer, to whom the son of his deceased friend is recruited as an apprentice.
• “Carrier” (France, USA, 2002). Frank Martin transports criminal cargo and always follows certain rules. One day, he opens the “package” and finds a bound woman with a sealed mouth inside.

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