The Fifth Element is – Fun!
In the year 2214, an ancient prophecy is fulfilled when a dark, devouring planet appears on the edge of the galaxy. It is composed of pure evil and it intends to destroy the Earth, then the rest of the universe. The only thing that can stop it is a legendary secret weapon shared with humankind by an ancient benevolent alien race – a weapon formed when stones containing the energy of the four known natural elements are aligned with an unknown fifth element. The aliens, in alliance with a secret sect of human priests, plans to bring the stones and the fifth element back to Earth – but when the precious cargo is lost en route in a pirate attack, all seems lost.
Bruce Willis stars as a weary ex-warrior turned New York cab driver who is destined to become embroiled in this interplanetary dilemma – twice! The first time when the title character, sent to Earth in the genetically enhanced form of Milla Jovovich, escapes from a government lab and crashes through the roof of his cab – and secondly when top military man Brion James decides he’s the only man he can send to recover the stones and save the universe.
Such is the pulpy stew brought to vivid life on the screen by director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita). Though the plot is extremely clever and well presented, it’s a bit much to digest before the real action gets started, and easy to lose track of in the midst of the chase scenes, gun fights, and all manner of other dazzling pyrotechnics that follow. Often getting lost between the complex plot and the roaring circus that surrounds it is any sense of suspense or urgency, as well as an engaging love story.
Though it comes dangerously close to turning into a giant mess by losing its center, The Fifth Element is held together just enough by the combined charisma of its two leads to succeed on its main strength: good old fashioned entertainment value! Every frame of every scene is choked with amusing, amazing details, while the story pushes forward relentlessly. One minute you’re gaping in awe at the incredible NYC cityscape, the next you’re gaping in awe at Gary Oldman’s incredibly eccentric acting. Gunplay, archeology, space cruise ships, campy DJs, explosions, opera, kung fu, cheesecake – don’t blink, or you’ll might miss something funny, beautiful, or just plain odd happening up on the screen. Though it’s easy to write off as just so much Hollywood excess, Besson is really just having a grand time trying to give audiences their money’s worth. I may be a cynical bastard, but I can’t kick a film that showed me such a good time.