Cyberpunk Review » Fifth Element

April 27, 2006

Fifth Element

Movie Review By: SFAM

Year: 1997

Directed by: Luc Besson

Written by: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

Key Cast Members:

  • Korben Dallas: Bruce Willis
  • Leeloo: Milla Jovovich
  • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg: Gary Oldman
  • Father Vito Cornelius: Ian Holm
  • Ruby Rhod: Chris Tucker
  • Rating: 8 out of 10

    Fifth Element screen capture


    Overview: Some movies are just absolute absurd fun – so fun that you end up watching it endlessly. The Fifth Element is that way for me, and is a movie I’ve seen around 20 times or so. The tone of the movie is too light-hearted to be considered a real cyberpunk movie, but like Tank Girl, we can consider this a cyberpunk comedy. The characters are all a hoot, and the movie never takes itself seriously – in fact it’s almost always over the top. Many of the cyberpunk themes still exist in Fifth Element, although, again, they are enacted in a light-hearted way. It’s the visuals that really bring Fifth Element into the cyberpunk subgenre.


    Fifth Element screen capture


    The Story: 217 years into the future, ultimate evil is again coming to destroy the earth. Ultimate evil takes the form of an absolutely massive malevolent ball of blackness that is on a course to destroy earth. Every attack the Federated Territories try only makes it larger. It turns out that a group of priests has been keeping the ancient technology necessary to destroy ultimate evil – four stones representing the 4 elements, which surround a fifth element. In this case, the fifth element is s beautiful girl (Milla Jovovich), reconstructed from the remains of a small DNA sample.


    Fifth Element screen capture

    “Leeloo Dallas, Multi Pass”


    Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) is a down and out highly decorated former military commando, now turned failing cabbie, who has a beautiful girl named Leeloo (Jovovich) fall into her cab – literally! The authorities are after her, as it turns out she has escaped those who recreated her. She can’t speak English yet she figures a way to ask for help. After she asks, Korben Dallas takes her to the priest, Father Vito Cornelius, who recognizes her as the Fifth Element, and promptly kicks Korben out.


    Fifth Element screen capture


    From there, things get crazy. The military approaches Korben for a secret mission to retrieve the stones necessary to stop ultimate evil. The stones are hidden with a famous Diva who is performing at the famous floating hotel, Floston Paradise. At the same time, Zorg, an evil corporate CEO (Gary Oldman) has hired a group of Mangalores (evil, ugly aliens) to retrieve the stones. Simultaneously, Father Vito Cornelius and Leeloo also find a way get to Floston Paradise to retrieve the stones. Things get even weirder when the famous radio host, Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker), an outrageous guy with a penis-head hairdo hosts the Floston Paradise experience with Korben as his guest!


    Fifth Element screen capture


    The Acting: All the main characters in the Fifth Element are quirky and memorable. Bruce Willis really works as a former hero, now on his last leg. Jovovich is beautiful and otherworldly. Tucker is a riot! This movie really got him known (Rush Hour made him famous though). And Gary Oldman as Zorg is flat out awesome as a completely crazed power-hungry evil doer with a quirky sense of style and salesmanship. Truly, Besson did a great job in casting this.


    Fifth Element screen capture


    The Visuals: The Fifth Element totally rocks in the cool futuristic visuals department. The colors include dark yellows with neon blues for the backgrounds, saturated blue scenes and orange clothes for the leads. But its the city-scapes, reminiscent of Lang’s Metropolis that are especially memorable. They flat out nail a far out vision of the future. Additionally, we have airports with 30 foot tall trash heaps due to a garbage worker strike, fully automated, ultra-processed McDonalds, deaf rock stars


    Fifth Element screen capture


    The Editing: The editing in the Fifth Element is just terrific. The splicing of the various story strands, as crazy as they are, flow wonderfully. In discussing the missing stones, the simultaneous, intermixed dialogue between Leeloo and Father Cornelius and Zorg with the Mangalores are just one terrific example of this; the Diva opera singling intermixed with Leeloo’s fighting is another. With the amount of stuff going on here, this could have ended up a disaster. Sylvie Landra, who also edited Leon – the Professional, deserves heaps of praise for this.


    Fifth Element screen capture


    The Fifth Element Cyberpunked Future: Dropping the crazed fantasy aspects of the stones and ultimate evil, The Fifth Element gives us a pretty dire view of the future. Cities are built high to escape the constant layer of smog that coats the surface; corporations are all-powerful; governments are impotent; fashion statements have gone seriously awry; cockroaches are used as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems - but at least we still get cheap Chinese food! Plus robots now do all our menial work!


    Fifth Element screen capture


    The Bottom Line: No, the Fifth Element is not intended to be taken seriously. Still, this movie is just far more enjoyable than it has any right to be. The action and romance are fun, the characters are unforgettable, the story is entertaining, the music is great, and the visuals are marvelous! The Fifth Element has been in my regular heavy watching rotation since it came out. Give this a watch if you’re looking for a witty futuristic cyberpunk action-comedy flick.


    Go to Page 2: More Fifth Element Screencaps–>>


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    This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, Hot Cyberchicks Kicking Butt, 8 Star Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals, Alien Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 - 1999 by SFAM.


    April 27, 2006

    Case said:

    Very good review. I’d (naturally) probably rate this a tad lower than you (don’t look so shocked), but I agree with nearly everything you say…spot on. This is just a visual tour-DE-force, cinematic eye candy of the highest order. I only wish there hadn’t been such an emphasis on comedy and goofy, annoying characters (Ruby, I’m looking at you)…even though that’s what many critics praised it for and cited as the quality that differentiates it from other films of this ilk. I agree, too, that it’s just on the fringe of being cyberpunk, although it definitely has some solid CP moments (the Leeloo fight during the opera singer’s performance, for instance, really leaps out at me). Good movie, though, sadly, not great…though it has great moments. A very, very, VERY near miss, to me…yet I can’t look away when it’s on.

    SFAM said:

    Hi Case, I really was debating putting this at 7 stars. Had I had half-stars (something I want eventually), I’d put this at 7.5. But I just had to go to 8 stars due to my sheer enjoyment of it. I can watch Fifth Element 5 times in a row and still love it. This, to me, adds a star, but I certainly understand people rating it less.

    ETM said:

    Oh, come on… I can’t believe that every time someone comments on Fifth Element, we can’t escape the Ruby bashing… I thought his performance was awesome, and the part well written. Tucker is DAMN annoying, and he is supposed to be just the way he is (I can’t believe how many people pin this on the actor). I dunno, I guess it comes with being European - I just don’t see anything wrong with anything related to that character, because, to me, he blends perfectly into the world the movie depicts.

    And don’t you dare bump it down to 7, SFAM! ;)

    I agree with your sentiments in this review completely. Cyberpunk is often guilty of taking itself too seriously and whilst the Fifth Element is about as comical as you can get it is a seriously guilty pleasure.

    April 28, 2006

    ETM said:

    I don’t see what is there to feel guilty about, honestly. You supposedly feel guilty for liking something you’re not supposed to, something that is bad but you enjoy, or for liking something for the wrong reasons… none of that with Fifth Element. :D

    SFAM said:

    As I mention above, I also think Tucker is terrific in this. He really is supposed to be insanely annoying. The character who took me the most to like was the President. The first 5 or 10 times I watched this, I really didn’t like him that much. Now I’m sufficiently brainwashed. :)

    Case said:

    ETM - you say stop the Ruby-bashing and then you say “Tucker is DAMN annoying.” You go on to say, “I can’t believe how many people pin this on the actor.” Again, didn’t you just say he was “DAMN annoying”? Make up your mind and then we’ll talk. I stand by my statements…and a 7.5 would be perfect.

    ETM said:

    Case, as SFAM has already said - Ruby is supposed to be damn annoying, and Tucker does the job so well. I don’t know what I’m supposed to make my mind up about?

    Case said:

    It’s still a stupid and pointless character. Take him out (or, at least, limit his scenes) and it’d improve the film greatly.

    ETM said:

    That is a matter of personal taste, really. I can’t imagine the movie without him.

    April 30, 2006

    Case said:

    I guess there really is no accounting for taste…or lack thereof.

    May 1, 2006

    ETM said:

    How about when lack of taste is one of the major points in the movie?

    May 4, 2006

    spikethebloody said:

    Needs to be 8 stars! WTF?

    amberlita said:

    umm…it is 8 stars Spike.

    anyway, i think that’s a fair rank and a fair review. it’s a guilty pleasure. not perfect, but just fantastically a good time. i never thought about it being cyberpunk though. interesting.

    May 5, 2006

    spikethebloody said:

    I say 10 stars. I mean the chick from Resident Evil says “Multi Pass” in an amusing manner.

    December 24, 2006

    lexein said:

    After enjoying this movie many times, I’m _still_ struck/moved/delighted by Milla Jovovich’s singing “A little light of love” over the end credits.

    January 16, 2007

    SFAM said:

    Oh wow Lexein, I didn’t know that Jovovich sang that! I’m going to have to go back and listen!

    l1zrdking said:

    I’ve always loved this flick. Every time I catch it on TBS I watch it. Its funny and full of action like most other Bruce Willis flicks, but all the sci fi and tech stuff makes it a nice change from his usual. And, Ruby Rod makes me laugh every time.

    January 19, 2007

    SCHEMMEL R Ctin Mc CLAUD said:


    January 20, 2007

    MOI said:

    Zorg is the coolest, funniest bad guy ever. Every time I think of that movie I think of him.

    March 29, 2007

    David said:

    I liked the movie. It’s aimed at the mentality of a 13-17 age audience. It can be incredibly sexy and warm at times, then giggly funny, and at others plain serious. I always think if a film aims to be totally serious throughout, then it ends up looking funny, or it’s so drole you wanna chuck.

    I admire how Besson is able to keep his french humor like a signature from film to film, that can be seen in Leon and others.

    Milla Jovovich is really hot in this movie, but comes across as cheese on legs in the Resident Evil movies.

    The society which we see in the film takes a good stab at imagining how screwed up life would be like in the 21st century. Slowly but surely we’re getting there… I hate to imagine the world in 25 years time.

    March 30, 2007

    SFAM said:

    Hi David, I’m guessin we’ll still have cars on the regular road in 25 years’ time. Who knows about 50 years though.

    April 3, 2007

    James NIGDEF said:

    This is a pretty fun movie. Besson is the only french director who can work with a big budget, and it shows. The visuals by legendary comic artist Moebius are breathtaking, Jovovitch is hot, and even though the film is a bit ridiculous at times it is very entertaining.

    May 26, 2007

    Anonymous said:

    the best film ever! i like it

    May 28, 2007

    randomrob said:

    A great paean to Moebius/ ‘Heavy Metal’ art… I still got one hangup- Zorg getting killed by the bomb. At the beginning of the film they foreshadow if “Evil’ stands in the temple during the showdown, it’s all over. I kept wanting Zorg to show up at the end and really up the ante on the plot tension. That’d be a bloodbath ending though, wouldn’t it (which I guess they were trying to avoid)?

    June 5, 2007

    iman said:

    wawwwwww !! cOol movie i like it verryyy muchhhhhhhhhh

    Klaw said:

    Yep this movie is much closer to Moebius’ “The Long Tomorrow” than Blade Runner ever was, despite the comic spin on the film. Gary Oldman can do no wrong… just wish he was playing a bad guy in the new Batmans though.

    June 6, 2007

    ellipsisigh said:

    I heard that there is a post-modern slant to this film. The Fifth Element has many references to other films…such as Bruce Willis’ Die Hard films, 2001, Indiana Jones…and others…Can anyone refer me to a list of all the film references?

    ellipsisigh, multi pass…

    randomrob said:

    the ultimate evil isn’t too far removed from Sauron, come to think of it… Luc Besson allegedly wrote the story outline when he was in his teens, so I’m sure there’s as many culture references in it as in anything else.

    June 29, 2007

    Piotr said:

    This movie is great.

    IHave nothing to add. :)

    November 10, 2007

    Andrew Drazdik Jr said:

    Not many people know creativity or are inspired by the creative minds of innocence. Like the purity of natural materials such as Aluminum, but with the creativity of inspiration and passion. Alcoa has a monument to this encased in glass surrounded by a narrow ledge for the weekender who wants to enjoy their secret garden. It reminds me of the opening screen shot in a futuristic world.

    November 25, 2007

    simona lake said:

    I just watched it round my dad,s house it was vere good.

    January 19, 2008

    Anonymous said:

    iiiii love 5th element

    mostafa said:

    5th element game is the best

    March 25, 2008

    Napuja said:

    There’s no mention of Ian Holms’ performance in this whole thing! I agree with the entire review regarding the performances of the main characters (Rock on Ruby! Rock on!), except for the omission of Ian Holms’ stellar take on Fr. Vito Cornelius.

    Quirky, wise, and almost reluctant in his sense of purpose to the task at hand, Cornelius’ part could only have been played well by a handful of veteran actors, and Ian Holms knocked it out of the park!

    May 2, 2008

    Daleene Olivieri said:

    OMG nice pic ov da BLUE LADY nice hair Milla Jovovich

    June 25, 2008

    jimmy said:

    this was the best movies in the world i LLved it (noooooooooooooot)lol(L)

    July 15, 2008

    directed by BRAIN DE PALMA said:

    starring by
    edited by PAUL HIRSCH
    director of photography TONY BERNSTEIN bsc
    designed by GARY WESIT

    July 16, 2008

    Android_Boy said:

    Love this one!

    February 19, 2009

    Simon said:

    I must have watched this film more than fifty times since its coming to DVD. I heard some rumor of a squeal coming out but that looks like it just stayed as a myth. One of my all time favorites.

    March 5, 2009

    Anonymous said:

    “But its the city-scapes, reminiscent of Lang’s Metropolis that are especially memorable. They flat out nail a far out vision of the future. Additionally, we have airports with 30 foot tall trash heaps due to a garbage worker strike, fully automated, ultra-processed McDonalds, deaf rock stars”

    I just love that.

    March 16, 2009

    LMXV said:

    “Additionally, we have airports with 30 foot tall trash heaps due to a garbage worker strike, fully automated, ultra-processed McDonald’s, deaf rock stars”

    It’s those little details that keep the movie interesting.

    April 29, 2009

    Mr. Sparkle said:

    Thumbs up for camp, but eight stars? Eh, I dunno.

    It is a pleasure to watch , and it does have the most outrageous black man in the universe.

    But cyberpunk? No way! This is pure space opera.

    May 10, 2009

    jmm1233 said:

    The only Cyberpunk moment in this film is the diva dance the rest is Sci-comedy

    May 16, 2009

    sri78 said:

    I really love this movie. I’ve watch it maybe more than 20 times. I really bought it 4 years ago. Really it a lot of fun.

    August 5, 2009

    Laserbeak said:

    Easily the best movie ever made. I first saw it when I was like 7 years old… And still love it today no matter how many times I see it. Ah, there’s so much to say..

    September 13, 2009

    chlordane said:

    I have seen this countless times, its awesome.

    January 30, 2011

    van0014 said:

    This movie is awesome! I remember when i was little, probably about 8 or something, i remembered part of a movie with flying cars and someone falling into a taxi. I always wondered what movie it was, or if it was a dream. Then i watched this movie with my dad and after the escape at the start, i recognised it immediately!

    The movies special effects are ahead of their time, i mean, how real do the flying cars look? and the scene where leeloo was created, they are very good effects for 1997.

    June 6, 2012

    ';'k said:

    i like the review

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