The Fifth Element

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The Fifth Element is a big, noisy, goofy piece of cotton candy, and I mean that as compliment. This is not a film that tries to be anything more than what it is and it’s a lot of fun. Director Luc Besson has put his own adolescent daydreams up on the screen and surrounded them with a dense, richly imagined universe.

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Summarizing the plot of a film like this is kind of silly, in only because the plot itself is, well, very silly. In short, a big, bad, black thing is headed for Earth and will destroy the planet unless the “Fifth Element,” the supreme being, can be reunited with stones representing the other four elements (Fire, air, water and earth). The fifth element takes the appealing form of Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), wearing just enough to keep the film’s PG-13 rating intact.

To protect Leeloo and retrieve the stones, the government taps Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), a luckless soldier turned cab driver who happened to cross Leeloo’s path. Dallas has to escort Leeloo to an interstellar cruise ship and collect the stones from a blue-skinned alien diva, all the while eluding the Mangalore agents of arms dealer Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman).

Thrown into the mix are a priest (Ian Holm) from an ancient order connected to the stones and an obnoxious disk jockey (Chris Tucker) who’s part of Dallas’ cover.

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See? I told you it was silly. Fortunately, everyone involved was on the same silly page and the whole thing manages to hold together. While Bruce Willis is hardly challenged by this role, he plays it with a world-weary “why me” demeanor that suits the character perfectly. Milla Jovovich, in addition to looking gorgeous, brings an otherworldly childlike innocence to the role, all the while speaking many of her lines in an incomprehensible alien language without sounding mush-mouthed. It doesn’t hurt that her childlike innocence includes a complete lack of modesty in some scenes. Did I mention that the story was originally dreamed up by a teenage boy? Obviously, in such a story, you can’t have a beautiful heroine who doesn’t take her clothes off once in a while.

You will need to check your brain at the door (and occasionally grit your teeth when Chris Tucker is on screen) but The Fifth Element is the perfect movie for the thirteen-year-old boy in all of us.

6 thoughts on “The Fifth Element

  1. Frost

    A long time fan of Luc Besson since seeing La Femme Nikta, I loved this movie. The whole movie is a Sci Fi farce.

    I loved Gary Oldman in the Professional (which is honestly a much more serious film), but his turn as Zorg is amazing. He is a psychotic cross of Elmer Fudd, Gordon Gekko, and Shannon (Christopher Walken’s character in Dogs of War).

    Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod always lays me low. He is so much better in this movie than in Rush Hour.

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  2. Teacher Júlia

    I’m a Brazilian English teacher and I’m interested in working with movies in order to have my students be in contact with the language. Well, I’m a fan of Bruce Willis, hehe… and because of that I entered here to write a comment. In a nutshell, this movie lets us a message about love – hard to find nowadays… Sorry if I’m being kind of romantic, but I believe it (love) is possible, not just between a couple, but for everyone.

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  3. Paul

    Yep – “Le Cinqième Elément” was a blast. If it had been directed by a big name dood (instead of the quirky, though genial, Besson) and marketed “à l’americaine”, it would have been a blockbuster. And YES Júlia, you are right – the Fifth Element is quite clearly “LOVE” … the love that will hold the world together with, and despite, the other four elements.

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  4. Neil

    I love Milla Jovovich in this movie. Something about her orange hair is very appealing.

    I think Leeloo is just about the sexiest sci-fi chick ever. (Next to, of course, Princess Leia in her metal bikini.)

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  5. SFChick74

    I remember being pleasantly surprised by the story when I first saw it in the theaters. It was one of the movies where I had low expectations going in. Still one of my favorites for rainy day watching.

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