Oh boy. I get to write about The 5th Element…I’ve waited for this moment all my life. Here we go. I LOVE this movie. I have it on Vudu and I watch it 2-3 times a week while doing laundry or cleaning. Let’s take this step by step. Grade A prime Bruce Willis, the reigning queen of kick butt, Milla Jovovich, and Chris Tucker in the roll he was born to play; one of the greatest characters ever conceived by any creative mind…ever. Supported by Gary Oldman as the obligatory villain out for personal profit, achieving his goals by any means necessary, and a big baddie that just wants to destroy everything. It takes place in the 23rd Century and sort of pokes fun at our cultural excesses, in a tongue in cheek sort of way, while delivering an excitingly paced action Sci-Fi thriller. How’s that for an elevator pitch? Not good? Ok, let me gush some more.
Look, I’m aware it wasn’t ever going to win any awards, and even though I do believe Chris Tucker should have won an Oscar, the movie itself probably doesn’t belong in the conversation with other more prominent movies of the “Sci-Fi thriller” type genre. That being said, and begrudgingly admitted to by myself, why then, dear reader, CAN’T I STOP WATCHING IT?!?! Oh, I’ll tell you why. Spoilerlessly….right now.
I’m sorry but, right off the bat, the movie lays the foundation for the larger plot of, “Hey, there is this ‘Great Evil’ that comes every 5,000 years and just wipes out all life with extreme prejudice. These mcguffins exist to defeat said Evil but first you must put them together correctly, figure out how to turn it on, and then you’ll be fine… piece of cake.” Right, but that story has been told thousands of times. Actually, you could probably argue that almost every adventure story ever written is based on that formula in some way or another. I don’t like arguing, so I’m not going to do that right now. What I will say is that some movies do it better than others and The Fifth Element does it pretty damn well. It helps that Bruce Willis seems to be channeling futuristic space John Mcclane and Milla Jovovich is kicking butt as endearingly as ever.
I know, I’m gushing unabashedly, but I submit to you that a movie that keeps the action moving and making sure every scene advances the plot in some way is a recipe for success, no matter how much the acting and certain choreographically questionable choices leave the viewer wanting. There is a fight scene towards the end of the movie where Leeloo, Milla Jovovich’s character, takes on a bunch of alien mercenary bad guys and tunes them up. This is juxtaposed cinematically with an impassioned Opera performance by an alien that has an important plot part to play. Parts of that fight don’t feel right, but in my always humble opinion, it works because the movie has kept moving forward from the get go. It’s run time is 2 hours and 7 minutes and every time I watch it, I think to myself that it’s too short. They don’t give you time to consider whether or not it’s a bad movie. They just give you the meat of the story in action sequences and short little character development scenes that perhaps never required incredible acting to pull of anyway. LEVITY my friends. As I mentioned before, The Fifth Element doesn’t appear to take itself too seriously and it shows. With comic relief around every corner book ended with suspenseful action that doesn’t ask you to worry too much about the outcome because it doesn’t hide the fact that in the end, love and light and goodness will win if willing to persevere. A subtle noble message presented in a very entertaining way.
If you watch this movie for nothing else, please, PLEASE pay attention to Chris Tucker’s portrayal of the bombastic hyperbolic Ruby Rhod. I can’t emphasize enough that, if I had known about this movie when it came out, I would have been the chairman of the “Oscar for Chris Tucker” Academy lobbyist organization. I would have campaigned hard. From the moment he comes on the screen you just know… you just KNOW he is going to be a memorable character. I may be in the minority here, but in the history of cinema, I submit, that there has never been a fictional character portrayed better than Chris Tucker’s portrayal of Ruby Rhod. It’s an unnatural love, I know, but I love this character and I will scream it from the mountain tops if necessary. So, if anyone wants to re watch this classic, let me know, because I’m always down to watch, or just discuss the merits of The Fifth Element.