High school wrestler Louden Swain (Matthew Modine) feels he must do something significant in his life shortly after turning 18. Despite vehement advice against it from his father (Ronny Cox) and coach (Charles Hallahan), Swain decides to try to lose over 20 pounds in a very short time in an attempt to take on the defending state champion of a lower weight class. Meanwhile, he falls for the edgy, older Carla (Linda Fiorentino), who provides further distraction for the young wrestler.
Mathilda (Natalie Portman) is only 12 years old, but is already familiar with the dark side of life: her abusive father stores drugs for corrupt police officers, and her mother neglects her. Léon (Jean Reno), who lives down the hall, tends to his houseplants and works as a hired hitman for mobster Tony (Danny Aiello). When her family is murdered by crooked DEA agent Stansfield (Gary Oldman), Mathilda joins forces with a reluctant Léon to learn his deadly trade and avenge her family’s deaths.