Slammin’, Glammin’ and Hammin’.
THE FIFTH ELEMENT has spawned so many negative reviews (even whilst admitting to enjoying it) that I get the feeling critics are jealous that Euros can pull off an action blockbuster with as much brainless flair as Americans – with twice the guilty pleasure.
In a future society realized in eye-fatiguing detail by writer/director Luc Besson, a race of aliens who are half Guardians of the Universe and half turtle, entrust a secret to generations of human acolytes – four carved stones representing the four elements of Water, Fire, Earth and Air, which, when combined with a mysterious Fifth Element (fiery Milla Jovovich), will keep Ultimate Evil at bay. This Ultimate Evil apparently threatens the Earth every 5000 years, the most recent attack being in 1987 when Jethro Tull won the Grammy for Best Heavy Metal Album.
Never mind that of the 116 confirmed elements, the fifth element is boron (its atomic number being 5, denoting it has 5 protons in the atom’s nucleus – sorry, I forgot the majority of people still believe in angels and astrology and in superstitions dating from 500 BC which identified only four elements that constitute the cosmos – didn’t mean to bring science into a fiction based on science…), in a world where supermodel Milla Jovovich fights evil whilst being 96-percent naked, I’ll run with her being the Fifth Element. Ian Holm and Charlie Creed-Miles are the discomfited acolytes entrusted to help Leeloo (Jovovich) keep evil at bay, apparently through stuttering and slapstick.
It’s up to THE SLAMMIN’ Bruce Willis, playing Korben Dallas playing Bruce Willis, an ex-army, devil-may-care flying-cab driver, to keep half-nekkid Fifth Element Leeloo out of danger and out of clothes. Hitching a ride to Planet Phloston – for seemingly no reason other than to flex Digital Domain’s special effects muscles – he must battle aliens that look like bulldogs, put his hand into the innards of a singer who looks like a vacuum cleaner and try to avoid –
THE GLAMMIN’ Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker), an interstellar DJ who looks like a transsexual Chris Rock, intent on interviewing Korben for his intergalactic radio show, while moisting all the siren stewardesses who overtly ache for a taste of his ruby rod. Dallas and Leeloo and Ruby being pursued by –
THE HAMMIN’ Gary Oldman… He’s done a junkie Pistol, he’s done a gay playwright, he’s done a deaf German composer, he’s done a blood-drinking undead version of Brad Pitt; here, he is Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, an interstellar black market arms dealer with a Bible Belt drawl – is there anything this thespian can’t do? To bring about the end of existence as we know it, The Ultimate Evil must work through Zorg’s company, for which Zorg charges the usual agent’s fee of 10-percent of the end-of-existence-as-we-know-it, which works out to about Canada.
Even though the mysticism of a prophecy engines this movie, Besson has unabashedly crafted a popcorn-and-bullets action-adventure comedy and obviously regards it as such, never for an instant threatening to tread philosophical, scientific or preachy ground; paradoxes, non-science, plotholes and cheap neoprene monster makeup flying hither and thither.
There’s something for everyone here: for the religionists, there are the acolytes blindly following their prophesy; for the atheists, there is nihilist Zorg selling WMDs to end the world; for futurists, there are flying cars; for comedy, there is Lee Evans; for the kinky, the octopussyian Plavalaguna; there is Bruce Willis for the ladies, there is Leeloo for the guys, and there is Ruby Rhod for everyone else who’s unsure.