The Professional Movie Poster Image

The Professional

Stylish, mature hitman thriller is quite violent.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters on both sides of the law engage in criminal or immoral behavior, including killing, drug dealing, and mob activity. The main character, a hitman, is portrayed as an otherwise caring soul who tries to rise to the challenge when he must protect a little girl. Law-enforcement characters are portrayed as crooked and more morally bankrupt than the film's criminals.


Graphic violence throughout, including murder, shooting, explosions. A knife is held to a man's throat; people have guns pointed at them or held to them. A man who's been badly wounded in a shootout launches grenades strapped to his body, causing a massive explosion that kills both him and his nemesis. A little girl is abused (slapped, hit) by members of her family. She is seen with a black eye and a bloody nose. While standing in the shower, a man stitches up a bloody wound on his chest.


At times there's a rather creepy undercurrent of sexual chemistry between a grown man and a young girl. When a hotel desk clerk asks her about her male guardian, she lies, saying, "He's my lover."


Many uses of words like "f--k," ass, and "bitch."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Various characters drink, smoke, and take drugs. Kilos of cocaine are shown. A 12-year-old girl is seen smoking cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this action thriller includes some scenes of extreme violence, including one in which a family -- including a 4-year-old boy -- is brutally gunned down in their home. There are also explosions, abuse (of a 12-year-old), and more. The 12-year-old girl develops an unusual relationship with a much older hitman (who teaches her his trade); there's an undercurrent of chemistry between them. Strong language includes "f--k" and "bitch"; characters also drink and smoke.

What's the story?

In THE PROFESSIONAL, reclusive New York City hitman Leon (Jean Reno) lets his nurturing side come out after rescuing 12-year-old Mathilda (Natalie Portman). Leon, who has lived like a hermit for years, discovers a strong paternal instinct when he takes the girl in. Mathilda's abusive upbringing has hardened her to violence and forced her to grow up fast, yet she's still youthful enough to love dress-up games and puppet shows. But his young charge often seems more worldly and calculating than her surrogate father figure. In fact, Mathilda makes a deal with Leon: He'll teach her how to be an assassin, and she'll take care of all the housekeeping duties. Their life includes everyday activities like cooking and cleaning, as well as lessons in firing a sniper rifle from a rooftop. Their mutual goal? Revenge against a group of thugs who performed a vicious act of violence against Mathilda's family.

Is it any good?


Jean Reno is quietly menacing in his hit man mode and awkwardly affectionate in his father-figure role. Leon lavishes TLC on his cherished houseplant; every day he carefully waters it, polishes its leaves, and arranges it just so on a sunny ledge. The symbolism is undeniable: Here is a man who kills people for a living but harbors a gentle soul and even a strict code of professional ethics ("no women, no kids").

Co-star Gary Oldman is chilling as a psychotic, corrupt DEA agent with a habit of popping pills right before his crooked team's various raids. And in her first major film role, Portman gives an intelligent and surprisingly mature performance.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the media tends to portray "good guys" and "bad guys." Are real people either all bad or all good -- or is it more complicated than that? How do you feel about the movies' tendency to portray gangsters' and criminals' "sensitive side"? Does that excuse their bad behavior?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 14, 1994
DVD/Streaming release date:February 24, 1998
Cast:Gary Oldman, Jean Reno, Natalie Portman
Director:Luc Besson
Run time:109 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:scenes of strong graphic violence, and for language.

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Adult Written byLauraEve August 17, 2011


Violence is current throughout the film. There are scenes near the start of the film where some women are dressed inappropriately, there is also a short shot of two people having sex, although there is no nudity. The 12 year old girl also wears some revealing clothes and tries to seduce the main character who is an adult. It can be quite uncomfortable to watch.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byTwilightVamps13 June 27, 2011

Brilliantly done, but know your child.

My parents are very strict about what I watch. I have seen less then a dozen R-rated flicks in my time, much unlike most of my friends, and this one was most definitely worth watching. The violence, while gritty and at times disturbing, is flawlessly done in a way that makes you want to keep watching, while still shocking enough to keep you interested. Most deaths are shown, but you don't normally see the faces of the victims. The only death I found particularly disturbing was that of the four year old. Another factor to point out is Mathilda's urge to kill. She may be 12, but she has no problem shooting a gun out a window, not caring where the bullets end up. Gary Oldman's performance is disturbing and amazing at the same time; he plays the 'bad cop' role perfectly. Teenagers will appreciate the artfulness of the film, such as the lighting (perfect) and camera angles. It's older, but not dated. Many R-rated films these days thrown in more gruesome and explicit violence than is necessary by any means, which this one avoids. A good starter for a teen begging to see an r-rated movie (like me!). Not a hard-r film, but know your child before you let them see it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 5, 9, 11, and 14 year old Written byJamesRobertson January 4, 2009