Published on April 11th, 2013 | by Clint Davis

The Fifth Element [1997]

The Fifth Element [1997] Clint Davis

Summary: In a genre that typically takes itself too seriously, The Fifth Element is an over-the-top feast for the eyes that manages to keep its audience the entire way.



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PG-13  |  126 min.

Director: Luc Besson  |  Screenplay: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen

Starring: Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich

Studio: Gaumont Film Company  |  Distribution: Columbia Pictures

In the year 2263 in Brooklyn, cab driver Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), a retired military major is on the job when he accidentally picks up the most important fare of all-time. Milla Jovovich is literally perfection embodied as an alien being called Leeloo AKA: The Fifth Element–the key to life’s existence against pure evil…if it sounds weird, that’s because it is.

If you like your sci-fi films glossy, colorful, and completely stylized, you will dig The Fifth Element. Director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional) has always enjoyed making stylish cinema and it’s obvious that when given the reigns to make this film, he took every creative chance he could, from the trance-like pop score down to Jovovich being dressed in nothing but thin white bandages for most of the first hour of the film (besides when she first appears totally naked, of course).

The Fifth Element is full of memorable, colorful images.

It’s all about the visuals with The Fifth Element but the art direction is unbalanced at times. You go from seeing a machine capable of re-animating living tissue from a single cell to someone surfing an archaic version of the Internet on a massive plastic computer monitor that’s straight out of 1995. If you’re going to go for broke in most aspects of the film, why appear so timid in some others? Did they really imagine that computers would stop evolving completely from the 1990’s to the year 2263?!

If anyone steals the show in this cast of colorful characters, it’s certainly power-hungry antagonist Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman). Oldman is in top form and it doesn’t hurt that he’s got possibly the greatest hair and southern accent in film history until Anton Chigurh and Ruby Thewes, respectively. Zorg is more of a caricature than a real character but in a film where Chris Tucker dresses like Nikki Minaj, it’s par for the course.

As the villainous Zorg, Gary Oldman steals every scene he’s in.

It’s this lightheartedness that makes The Fifth Element such a blast to watch. Besson devotes an entire sequence to juxtaposing a spaceship taking off, a man spontaneously combusting, and a sex act into one seamless event!

This movie takes pieces from other genre classics like Star Wars and Blade Runner but takes itself about as seriously as Back to the Future, making for a ride that’s as fun as it is interesting.

Buy The Fifth Element on Amazon

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About the Author

Clint Davis is a Cincinnati, Ohio-based journalist who dropped out of film school to write news! Email him at

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