Run Leeloo Run
The year is 2012 and in about 200 years a giant evil ball of flame will make its way towards Earth, but don't worry a former elite commando who is now a taxi driver and a supreme being in a strappy outfit and orange hair will save the day. Yes I am on about Luc Besson's "The Fifth Element" a movie which combines "Die Hard" with numerous Sci-Fi movies and even manages to sneak in a nod to James Bond before it is finished. It is visually arresting, so visually arresting that you end up not bothering to follow what is happening and instead enjoy Besson's vivid futuristic vision and the crazy action.
In the twenty-third century a giant evil planet moves closer and closer to the planet, growing in size when ever it is attacked. Father Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm) who is the guardian of a secret tells the President (Tommy 'Tiny' Lister) that the only thing which can stop this evil is the fifth element who is returning aboard a Mondoshawan spacecraft, except the spacecraft gets destroyed and it is up to the scientists to try and save the day by recreating the supreme being from DNA. And so Leeloo (Milla Jovovich - Chaplin) is created but as she escapes from the laboratory and ends up falling into the taxi of former elite commando Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis - Die Hard: With a Vengeance) who finds himself drawn into this dire situation as he has to help find the four stones which are the other elements in order for the fifth element, Leeloo, to protect the planet. Except there are others who are also after the stones including the evil genius Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman).
I'll be really honest with you, "The Fifth Element" is a movie which is not about a story, the fact I managed to write that synopsis is a surprise because what story there is doesn't make much sense. Basically what there is is there as a vehicle for action and Besson's vision of the future. But whilst the storyline doesn't make much sense and ends up becoming less important the longer the movie goes on it does have some nice touches especially with the casting of Bruce Willis which allows for some "Die Hard" style action but also humour and action at the expense of "Die Hard". And whilst it is only a small scene the amusing nod to James Bond right at the end is simple but fun.
So here we have a movie all about the visual and what a visual movie it is, well any movie which introduces us to Milla Jovovich in an outfit which is a pair of knickers and a few straps is going to grab your attention, and that is not the only daring outfit we see her in. It is visually brilliant from Besson's vision of a future New York with flying cars to space monsters and the maniacal Zorg it is like so many sci-fi movies and comics put in a mixing bowl and what comes out is a fusion of ideas. So one minute it seems to be giving us a bit of "Total Recall" then the next "Battle Beyond the Stars" and of course some "Star Wars" as well. It is such a vivid vision of the future that it does take your mind away from following the story, which is a good thing.
But it is not just this colourful future because we have action and comedy interweaving in every scene often coming from crazy characters. So we have the stunning scene which sees Leeloo dive from a building and crash into the back of Korben's taxi, but then we have the humour of her being cute and afraid in the back as Korben talks to her in an almost sarcastic way. Throw into this the regular phone calls Korben gets from his mother and the craziness which is Chris Rock as the extravagant Ruby Rhod and if the visuals hadn't taken your mind off of the story the melee of action, humour and characters will have.
Now what can you say about the acting, well Bruce Willis delivers a trademark performance as the sarcastic Korben whilst Gary Oldman gives us evil mastermind as Zorg and Ian Holm gives us a comically devious priest. But in the end all of these actors end up being overshadowed by Milla Jovovich and not just because of her revealing outfits and orange hair. Nope Jovovich also creates this loveable character who is cute and vulnerable but also one tough cookie when it comes to fighting and when ever Leeloo is in a scene you end up paying little attention to anyone else.
What this all boils down to is that "The Fifth Element" is a fun movie which delivers one heck of a vivid, colourful future and plenty of action and humour. But get beyond that and the storyline is messy which is a shame as a clever storyline to match the great look would have made this a brilliant movie.