‘Money Heist’: How Leon and Mathilda in ‘The Professional’ Influenced Tokyo’s Story
Released in 1994, Luc Besson’s Leon: The Professional is considered a masterpiece. A crime thriller, the movie featured Natalie Portman as Mathilda and Jean Reno as Leon, the hitman with a heart. After a crooked DEA agent murders her family, Mathilda finds a safe haven with her loner neighbor, Leon, and learns about his true profession. She then insists on becoming his protégé so she can exact revenge.
[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) Season 5, Volume 1]
Tokyo’s style is an ode to Mathilda in ‘The Professional’
Money Heist‘s cast and crew found inspiration in Mathilda when fleshing out Tokyo’s character, and the most obvious similarity is in the hair. The cropped haircut and signature bangs are an homage to the emotionally scarred but fierce Mathilda, and Úrsula Corberó once explained how Tokyo connects to her.
“So, we were doing the costume testing and seeing what would work. I had thought to myself, a very short fringe and cut like Mathilda would really give a mean look to the character through her eyes,” she told NileFM. “And then I arrived at the session where we were doing the costumes thing and I noticed that the whole wall was plastered with images from Mathilda, and it was a blast.”
Professor and Tokyo’s relationship mirrors Leon and Mathilda’s
With Professor, Tokyo found a father figure, mentor, guardian angel, and a rebellious cause. Doing heists is an unconventional line of work as is being a hitman. As fans learned in season 5, it was Berlin’s idea to recruit Tokyo when she was a fugitive on the run in Madrid.
Professor was hesitant about bringing her into the fold, but he eventually agreed. This is similar to Leon, who was reluctant about taking Mathilda in and indirectly teaching her about the violent world of assassins.
Tokyo was one of Professor’s earliest recruits for the main gang, and she looked up to him while simultaneously feeling protective of him. Fans saw glimpses of that — or jealousy — when Lisbon entered the picture as his girlfriend. Mathilda felt the same about Leon.
But the father/daughter dynamic is present in both Money Heist and The Professional, despite any weird or inappropriate romantic undertones. Mathilda and Tokyo both shed tears over their teacher/protector/crusader, and the guardian angel figure that Professor and Leon represented is an overarching theme.
Tokyo’s death scene echoed Leon’s in ‘The Professional’
In the last minutes of Money Heist Volume 1, Tokyo rained bullets on Gandía and Sagasta’s team. She did her best to fight back, and with her sacrifice, she allowed her friends to make a safe getaway.
As she lies on the floor bleeding and riddled with bullet wounds, Gandía approaches her to finish her off. He flips her over with his foot and aims his gun. But it’s Tokyo who has the last laugh. With a wink and smirk, she signals one last and deadly surprise. She secretly pulled a grenade pin. Boom!
The scene is eerily similar to the last scene between Leon and Stansfield in The Professional. After Stansfield shot Leon from behind, he walked up to his bleeding body on the ground and turned him over with his foot. They face other, and Leon tells hands him something from Mathilda. He places a grenade pin in his hand. They both die in the explosion.
Same sequence, same avenging circumstances, and same sacrifice. Leon and Tokyo live on as eternal badasses whose deaths made people cry.