Truly, Milla Jovovich looks like she could kick your ass, or be an alien from a different planet, or both. It’s no wonder why she’s always cast in sci-fi and action films like Ultraviolet, Hellboy, and later on the Resident Evil movies. Before her acting career though, she was a supermodel and the highest-paid model in the world according to Forbes in 2004.
In The Fifth Element, much of her acting skills weren’t put to use as much as her modeling, because her character is more of a plot device and set in this visually stunning film. Director Luc Besson, her then-husband, is the man behind all of this spectacle.
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The Movie Review
There are four elements – earth, air, water, fire. But in this story, there exists a fifth element, created by the alien Mondoshawan race as a weapon to battle against an evil force that threatens the Earth every 5000 years. In the year 2259, a Mondoshawan ship is shot down through the orders of the evil agent, Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg. It falls into the Earth and is salvaged by humans, who were able to retrieve a few cells and reconstruct an entire organism.
The entire organism turns out to be a perfect human female named Leeloo. Out of fear, she escapes the chamber she was reconstructed in and falls through the roof of an ex-pilot Korben Dallas’s taxi cab. It was love at first sight for him, but Leeloo is determined to save the world. Together, they must find the priest Victor Cornelius to activate the fifth element and stop the evil force, as well as Zorg, from gaining control over the four elements.
Luc Besson isn’t entirely the best when it comes to sci-fi, looking back at the confusing Lucy and the bland Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. When you have unforgettable sci-fi movies like Star Wars, Alien, and Metropolis, the bar is set high. Besson however, never fails to prove that he’s great at bringing universes to life and leaving you in awe by the end. The Fifth Element is vibrant in color, with mind-blowing special effects, production design, and iconic costumes – especially Leeloo’s white bandage bodysuit, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier.
What I hate about this film is how soulless the characters are, especially Leeloo. The film’s portrayal of her as child-like while barely wearing any clothes is disturbing, and Bruce Willis’ character’s interest in her makes it look even creepier.
The ‘born yesterday’ trope and objectification of women in films is tiring and kills the potential of Leeloo being a fleshed-out, badass female character. But she’s not the only thing in the movie that’s badly written, as the plot never makes any effort to be complex. There are some philosophical insights about creation and human nature, but there isn’t much of it to be explored because the visuals take away any chance of it.
Despite that, there are many things to love about The Fifth Element. Some scenes are hard to forget, such as the Diva opera-dance performance where Leeloo begins to fight alien villains to the beat. It was accompanied by Eric Serra’s music and performed by Inva Mulla Tchako, and has seen the creation of many song covers.
Milla Jovovich was so badass in the fight scenes, and she is still a good actress in the movie, which is even cooler when you consider she had to speak a made-up alien language the whole time. Bruce Willis was amazing in this too, and Chris Tucker (who played Ruby Rhod) served most of the entertainment in the film and had me in tears.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, The Fifth Element is well ahead of its time. Maybe not plot-wise, but it’s the kind of film you find yourself watching on repeat, either to revisit the flying cars or to hear Leeloo say “chicken good” while 3D printing chicken. The Fifth Element has all the elements that make science fiction fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously, saving itself from becoming a bad sci-fi.