JT Film Review

The Fifth Element (1997)

The Fifth Element Review
Review #140

4/5 stars

Director – Luc Besson

Cast – Milla Jovavich, Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, Charlie Creed-Miles, Brion James, Tom Lister


To call The Fifth Element a roller coaster ride would be like calling Albert Einstein a math nerd; true, but a bit of an under statement. Directed and co-written by French action director Luc Besson, it is a reckless and bold movie that, while it may not hit all the heights it wants to, comes damn close. It is energetic and vibrant, and just whips by.

The titular element is personified in Jovavich’s character, Leloo, an orange haired, seemingly childish “supreme being”. Leloo could have easily been a generic action chick character, but Jovavich gives her a wonderful sense of immaturity,innocence, and novelty; a feat she has yet to accomplish with her current roles, it seems.

Leloo is the key to an ultimate weapon, needed to defeat a strange glowing energy orb-thing that has materialized out of nowhere in the middle of space. One of the movie’s failings is that it’s a bit vague about all this… but by the time you have thought of this you are whisked away somewhere else, and have no time to dwell on it. She finds herself in the strange world of the 23rd century, and runs into  cab driver, played by Willis, who helps her, well, defeat the bad guys. It’s that simple really. Simplicity is fine here, even welcomed, because while the story structure is bare bones, the world design here is fantastic. If ever a movie begged for a sequel, this is it; I’d love to see this world opened up more. Not that The Fifth Element fails to satisfy us, or that it confuses us with its myriad details and oddities, not at all. It just left me wanting more, and in a good way. This is a hell of a universe.

It is a joy watching the cast here. They are all having fun, and never over think anything. And what a cast! Ian Holms as a befuddled and over-anxious priest, Bruce Willis as a tough cab driver (maybe not a big stretch for him here), Jovavich bring wonderful life to a potentially dry character, and Gary Oldman as a Texan/space weirdo/industrialist. Oh, Gary Oldman… I had seen pictures of his character before, and wrote it off immediately as just being too weird, but Oldman had me in stitches throughout the whole thing. It’s a gorgeous bit of acting.

And then there’s Chris Tucker… Mr. Tucker features as a none-more-flamboyant radio DJ, who tags along with Willis in the second half, narrating the action filled events live to his listeners. I still don’t know if I despise this character or if I can put up with him… It will take a few re-viewings to decide I think. But I don’t think I blame people for putting him on “Top 10 Annoying Sidekick” lists. You can’t really argue with that.


The Fifth Element is brash, energy filled, and psychedelic. The cast has just the right amount of fun, and the art direction and even the CGI is wonderful. The third act may turn a bit generic, but we barely have time to notice. This movie is fun, to put it curtly. Pure fun.




“The Fifth Element” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia



January 31, 2012 - Posted by | 4 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Sci-fi, Year - 1990-1999 | , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I wholeheartedly agree that I would love to see more of this universe. It was always a goal of mine to run a d20 Future game in this setting. I just need to find people who are also interested, lol.

    Comment by Lord Brockington | April 12, 2012 | Reply

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