Trained assassins make excellent movie fodder. Take a femme fatale or a buff dude, give him a mysterious past, a gun, and somebody to kill, and we get a cookie-cutter movie.
One film assassin that always stood out to me? Leon from The Professional.
Jena Reno plays a hitman but he isn’t your typical action hero. He’s not some buff dude with a mysterious past.
Instead, we see him care deeply for people — especially when he adopts Mathilda after bad guys kill her entire family.
But he can also be a murder machine when the time calls for it.
The film is one of my favorites and gave Luc Besson quite the career.
I’m A Cleaner
Jean Reno, clearly a Frenchman, plays Italian hitman Leon for a wise guy named Old Tony.
Leon lives humbly, and apparently, Old Tony hangs onto his money for him. He’s shown to be very capable in his dealing of death to those unfortunate enough to have a contract on their heads.
When a coke-fueled corrupt DEA agent Stansfield, played brilliantly by Gary Oldman, and his thugs slaughter a neighbor’s family, Leon takes in the surviving daughter.
Mathilda discovers what Leon does and wants to learn the trade.
Leon teaches her how to kill, and she teaches him how to read. They bond and become good friends, with Mathilda developing a somewhat creepy crush on Leon.
As you’d imagine, it all goes to hell…
In the end, we see Leon chew through an entire NYPD ESU team led by Stansfield and his goons.
Throughout the movie, we see some prime-time 1990s and 1980s guns. We get the MP5, the TEC-9, the always cool Spectre M4, lots of Ithaca 37s, and tons of all-metal DA/SA handguns.
This includes Leon’s own pair of custom Beretta 92FS pistols.
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Prices accurate at time of writing
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A Cleaner Needs a Broom
The Beretta 92FS was high-tech in 1994.
It was one of the best handguns of its age and packed a monumental for the time capacity of 15 rounds.
Beretta was riding high after adoption by the U.S. military, and the guns were massively popular in film and media.
The Beretta 92FS utilizes a DA/SA trigger system that provides a long trigger pull for the initial shot and a much shorter and lighter pull for subsequent shots.
It’s an all-steel gun that absorbs recoil like a champ.
Beretta’s famed open-top slide design gives the gun a very distinct look that helps ensure its reliability. It’s tough to have a failure to eject when the ejection port is so massive.
I love this gun and always have.
I carried the M9 variant for years as a Marine, and it never let me down. So, I can see why Leon would choose the gun.
In 1994, this was a very modern choice that provided Leon a reliable and very capable pistol at a time when single stacks and revolvers were still the hotness.
Bring Me Everyone
In the film, Leon’s Beretta 92FS pistols come customized with a very large compensator.
These comps come from an Italian company called LA. RI. A and was known as the AL-GI-MEC compensator.
It features three massive ports that will most certainly reduce muzzle rise.
Funny enough, he also fits these guns with suppressors while still having the compensators equipped.
This doesn’t seem like it should work and normally wouldn’t. The comps redirect gas upwards to reduce muzzle rise and would release the noise of the shot before they reached the suppressors.
Yet, Leon has some weird setup with extended threads on his suppressors that attach to the barrel and block the ports. It’s a complicated setup, but it works.
In the film, Leon can’t be beaten.
He kills his way through the movie in all manner of ways. This includes dual wielding, hiding on the roof, and ambushes. Yet, he never wields the Berettas like a real professional.
It’s more about style than realism. His shooting is done with one hand, and the film portrays dual wielding as particularly effective.
However, there are some cool scenes where he shoots through a wall or door as a means to take down unexpecting bad guys.
Ultimately, cool is the name of the game and Leon wields two cool guns while looking good as he does it.
The Professional tops the charts as one of my favorite 90s action flicks.
It’s a great film with a great cast that eats up the film with outstanding performances. The Professional is dark but has a sweet silver halo around it.
This is part of a weekly series on Pew Pew Tactical dedicated to the guns of TV and film. If you’d like more of this content, drop us a comment below. In the meantime, check out last week’s pop culture dive with “The Expendables” and the AA12.
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That is a really good movie! Leon is so endearing that you root for this character so much more than any other (In my case) and then the ending is wow. Don't want to spoil it.
Would love to see some of these articles on some cult classics-They Live, Devils Rejects.