How well do you remember Luc Besson's "Leon: The Professional"?

Torrance Grey

Image: The Movie DB

About This Quiz

This classic thriller about a hit man and his pre-teen trainee introduced the world to a very young Natalie Portman. Now, return to the world of Leon the assassin and the mean streets of his New York with our quiz!

In which city does "Leon: The Professional" take place?

The film does have French associations. Luc Besson is French, of course, and Jean Reno is a French actor famous for playing tough guys.

What is the name of the 12-year-old girl Leon takes under his wing?

Natalie Portman was only eleven when she was cast in the role. She beat an astounding 2,000 other actresses for the part.

Who played the Mob boss, Tony?

Aiello rarely plays characters who aren't demonstrably Italian-American. They are often good-hearted ones, though, which Tony sort of is.

What beverage does Leon steal from the bodega and drink throughout the film?

Seriously, if you kill people for a living, and you're still not making enough money to buy milk, it's time to renegotiate your wages.

What does Leon have in his house, that he takes great care of?

Leon later calls the plant his "best friend." It becomes an important symbol of his ability to love and to grow.

Who played Stansfield, the corrupt DEA agent?

Oldman does not have what most people would consider a distinctive appearance. This has allowed him to take on roles as diverse as Dracula and Sid Vicious.

Why is Mathilda's father in trouble with Stansfield?

It would be nice if Stansfield cared about Mathilda, but he doesn't. He'll prove this pretty resoundingly in the bathroom scene, late in the film.

What does Mathilda tell the schoolmistress who calls the apartment about her truancy?

Mathilda answers the phone while her parents are busy. (Okay, they're having sex in the bathroom.) Mathilda impersonates her mother and gravely says, "She's dead."

What composer is Stansfield passionate about?

Stansfield tells Mathilda's father, "You don't like Beethoven. You don't know what you're missing." But then he admits that the composer gets "a little f---ing boring" after his powerful openings.

What is Leon's euphemism for "hit man"?

Mathilda wants to learn his line of work, and she offers to clean his apartment and wash his clothes in exchange. So she's exchanging one kind of "cleaning" for another.

What does Leon do after Mathilda falls asleep the first night?

Some have called this the beginning of a mercy killing. Another explanation is that he realizes he's acquired a burden, and killing Mathilda would be the quickest way out.

What distinctive piece of jewelry does Mathilda wear?

Mathilda has a unique fashion sense. The first shot of her shows her legs and feet, clad in brown leather ankle boots and stockings printed with old-fashioned newspaper comics. Her black ribbon choker is just another unique stylistic choice.

How is Norman Stansfield always dressed?

We have to wonder -- doesn't wearing the same thing every day raise eyebrows among his colleagues? It's not like he's a "Peanuts" character.

What does Mathilda do that persuades Leon to take her on as an apprentice?

Amazingly -- given that this is New York -- there is no plaintive "Why?" and death rattle after Mathilda fires at random. Not even any sound of breaking glass, either.

Where do Leon and Mathilda go after he agrees to take her under his wing?

After they find a new place to live, they also go to Central Park, or rather a rooftop at a small distance from it, to practice. Mathilda fires a paint pellet at a jogger there, her first practice at shooting.

During the dress-up guessing game, which character does Leon recognize?

When Mathilda poses as Monroe, singing breathily to Leon and waring makeup, he looks very uncomfortable with the situation. It's possible that he knows who Mathilda is pretending to be, but can't bring himself to say it.

Where does Leon keep his money?

It's implied that this unorthodox arrangement came about because Leon could not, at first, read or write. Banks, as Tony points out, require paperwork.

What does Mathilda see that upsets her, when she goes back to her family's apartment?

It's actually not common practice for police to make chalk outlines. In his classic textbook, "Practical Homicide Investigation," Vernon Geberth complains about "chalk fairies" -- beat officers who draw such outlines, then disappear when detectives demand to know who contaminated the crime scene.

How does Mathilda learn where Stansfield works?

Mathilda returns to her home just in time to hear a heated exchange between Stansfield and the other agents. In it, he suggests they come to his office, "room 4602," if they want any more answers. Then she follows him outside, and a cab is instantly available for her to flag down, so she can follow him to the DEA offices.

What does Mathilda take from her family's apartment?

It's not clear whether the stuffed rabbit was hers or if it belonged to the little brother she loved. Her point in taking the cash is clear: she tries to use it to pay Leon to kill Stansfield.

What gets Leon and Mathilda evicted from the Hotel National?

We see the front-desk clerk at the door, flanked by two other hotel employees. Then Leon and Mathilda are out on the street. Realistically, this should have gotten Leon investigated by the police.

What does Mathilda do after her "practice hit" in the cocaine dealer's apartment?

Mathilda doesn't actually carry out the hit -- she uses paint pellets again, then Leon follows up with his pistol. Mathilda then burns the cocaine, because it will kill "women and children," which Leon has said is forbidden.

How does Mathilda get access to Stansfield's office?

Mathilda buys food and says she's delivering it upstairs. By this time, she's adopted Leon's look, wearing a small round knit cap and round sunglasses.

What is the present that Leon buys for Mathilda?

Mathilda wears the dress for the first time after he rescues her from the DEA building. Besson would not let the actors rehearse the scene, so that he could capture the awkwardness of their interaction when Mathilda comes out of the bathroom wearing the dress.

What does Leon send down with Mathilda, through his "homemade" escape shaft?

Leon is certainly attached to that plant! However, we can assume that it's been replaced as his "best friend" by Mathilda, since he tells her that he loves her and that she's given him "a taste for life."

How does Leon get out of the heavily-surrounded building?

This is a fairly familiar trope in action films. A particularly disturbing example is "The Silence of the Lambs," in which Hannibal Lecter puts on some of a deputy's face. (Ugh.)

Where do Mathilda and Leon reunite?

The way the footage is intercut between Mathilda on the street, and Leon slipping away from the mayhem and walking toward the sunlight outside, it really looks like they're both going to make it. Unfortunately, an uncomplicatedly happy ending probably would have cost the movie the respect of film critics.

How does Stansfield die?

Leon hands Stansfield a grenade pin and tells him, "This is from Mathilda." Stansfield then opens Leon's jacket and sees the grenades. (Cut to the shot of the whole building front blowing out.)

Who does Mathilda go see first, after Leon's death?

Leon asked Tony to give his money to Mathilda if something should happen to him. Tony offers Mathilda the same setup he did for Leon -- to hold her money as a bank would, without all the paperwork. He also tells her to get her ass back to school -- something Leon should have said long before!

What is the headmistress's one condition for Mathilda's return?

The headmistress might have regretted this when Mathilda came out with a story about corrupt DEA agents and a hit man with a heart of gold. But apparently this wasn't a deal-breaker, as Mathilda says shortly thereafter that she thinks she'll "be okay here."

What is Mathilda doing in the film's closing scene?

Man, is she going to be upset when that plant dies in the first winter snow! Most houseplants aren't bred to survive outdoors.

What film was Besson's roundabout way of writing about the adult Mathilda?

"Colombiana" isn't a direct sequel. Reportedly, Gaumont Film held the rights to the character of Mathilda and wouldn't release them to Besson, who'd left Gaumont to start his own production company.

Maiwenn Le Besco, who had a small role in "Leon," was much more important to what 2000s horror film?

"High Tension," a film by Alexandre Aja also starred Cecile de France. It's hard to watch, but features a killer of a twist.

Luc Besson got into filmmaking after an accident left him unable to do what?

After the accident made deep-sea diving impossible, Besson made a list of things he was good at or liked, including writing, and filmmaking seemed like a possibility. He then did further research by visiting a film set. It sounds like a coolly analytical way to make a career choice, but obviously, it worked well for him!

In 1999, Besson made a film about another young, strong-willed female, this one a historical figure. Who was she?

The film was "The Messenger" and starred Besson's then-wife, Milla Jovovich. The casting was troublesome: prospective director Kathryn Bigelow parted ways with Besson because he insisted on Jovovich's casting. Bigelow then sued Besson for using original research she'd amassed while attached to the project. They settled out of court.

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