The Fifth Element


Year 1997

Bruce Willis   as  Korben Dallas  
Milla Jovovich as Leeloo
Gary Oldman as Jean-Baptiste-Emmanuel Zorg  
Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod
John Neville as General Staedert
 
Director - Luc Besson
Screenwriter   - Luc Besson

Luc Besson? Have you heard of him? Maybe you've heard of La Femme Nikita. Or The Big Blue. Or Leon: The Professional. How about The Transporter?

Luc Besson has fun with his movies and he likes explosions. It would seem like the realm of science fiction would be his domain more often than not. Sadly, it isn't and I think that this movie in particular killed that.

Everyone, i.e. the critics, expected something like the next Star Wars or something. What they got was eye candy, one liners, and things blowing up. It was delightful for everyone except the critics. They panned it.

But, like other similar movies, the public ate it up.

What's the plot? In the future, an outer space alien is bringing the end of the world as a gift and only another alien can stop him. It's that simple. Subplots? Uh, no. Unless you count the fact that the outer space alien has a human assisting him.

Everything else is fluff. Well, maybe it's more than fluff because afterwards you don't get that hungry feeling a few hours later.

The plot details? Well, the movie starts with good aliens (they only kill the people they meet) showing up at an archeological dig in a cool looking ship. The goal of these aliens in their similarly cool looking space suits is to take certain relics away so that they can be stored safely until needed.

Flash forward to the future to find Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), an anti-gravity taxi driver. He's not doing well because he's anti-rules, which is no surprise. This movie embraces clichés. Don't let that put you off because it makes fun of clichés.

Take Korben Dallas. When recruited for the job of saving the world, his boss tells him that he's got the skills because of a special operation team he was on. That's a yawn. But delivered almost as an aside with a shrug is the additional tidbit, "You're the only one left alive." Funny.

Bruce Willis' best remembered line happens when police are looking for him in his apartment. Ask to identify himself, he answers, "I am a meat Popsicle."

Take Leeloo (Mila Jovovich). Based on the cool space suits that you saw earlier, the ones with distorted proportions, the aliens must be some kind of broken. But, Leeloo is one of the aliens. What a set-up. What a girl, too. There's no way any living male could say no to a damsel in distress if she looked and acted like her. Her best remembered line is, "Multipass." No fooling. Her goofy pseudo-alien accent makes her pronunciation of that simple word memorable.

Take Jean-Baptiste-Emmanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman) as the evil, scheming, big business tycoon who's ready to sell out the earth to make a few bucks. The fact that with the earth destroyed, there will be no use for money never crosses his mind. He's so over the top, he has a hard time being convincing with merely a double-cross. Even when he dies, you don't believe it and expect to see him later.

Take Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) as the lame talk-show host. He's the most popular celebrity ever? He whines and cries and sounds like a scream queen throughout.

This movie likes to poke fun at authority. The president of the whole shebang has a hard time with proper English. Cops would rather eat than chase criminals. Priests are dogmatic parrots. Rock stars are mentally challenged and deaf. It's the wave of the future. But the colors are bright.

The violence includes space chases, a police chase, planted explosives, shootouts, and martial arts contests.

Props are played for laughs. At one point, matches are needed. To set up the need to carry matches, Bruce Willis is set up as a smoker. The cigarettes are the standard length, but the filters are three-quarters of the length. He's allowed five per day and he's trying to quit, but the reason for carrying matches is established.

After Bruce wins a vacation on a foreign world, he boards a ship to get to his destination. About a half dozen things are going on simultaneously as the ship takes off. A priest is attempting to stow away, an impersonator is attempting to get on-board, Zorg is trying to keep up with events, Ruby Rhod (get it?) is trying to get lucky, the pilot of the ship is trying go through his launch sequence, and Korben Dallas needs to be put into his travel compartment. Despite the constant jumping of the point of view, it's so skillfully written, directed, and edited that it comes across as a crescendo rather than a hodge-podge. Good stuff.

If you can't afford the Blu-Ray, get the Superbit. It's a very clear picture.

Chick flick potential? It's never insulting to women and Mila defeating a dozen or so aliens single-handedly is plus points. Also, she's so cute that women can't be angered by her and a guy can quietly admire her without his date getting her feathers ruffled.


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