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The Fifth Element (1997 PG-13)
Directed Luc Besson.
In the future, in the Middle East, an all powerful female deity is revived. Asleep for thousands of years, she may in fact be a god.
In New York City, a former soldier of fortune flies a mean Air Taxi. He is hired by a religious group to protect her on a mission into space. Meanwhile, an evil human conspires with aliens bent on universal destruction.
Amidst death and explosions on an orbiting cruise spaceship, the tough New Yorker and the female god beat the odds. Back on Earth, the cabbie and the goddess begin dating seriously.
Bruce Willis is perfectly cast as the New York cabby. Ironic, casual, and tough, Willis has great fun in a role that would have been MUCH less interesting in the hands of aging action hunks like Big Arnold or Sly Stallone. And, Bruce looks pretty cool with blonde hair.
Milla Jovovich (21 years old and from the Ukraine), is fascinating to watch as the female god. It helps that she's a fresh face and it doesn't hurt that fashion designer Gaultier has made the most of VERY little material.
Gary Oldman goes through the ceiling at times, giving a juicy performance that compares favorably to Mr. Vincent Price in his Roger Corman/Edgar Alan Poe period. Although it's a bit much, he had fun. And so do we, watching him, so what the hell!
Chris Tucker is a whirling dervish as a fast talking, futuristic DJ/media star. While his performance probably redefines the concept of "over the top," he shows up at a point in the film where viewer interest MIGHT have begun to flag. His wild, comedic performance adds new energy to the proceedings that assists in propelling the film to it's satisfying conclusion. Tucker has since been seen in the comedy "Money Talks," with Charlie Sheen, receiving generally good reviews.
Luc Besson's got good notices for "The Professional," starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, and Natalie Portman, in 1994. With "The Fifth Element," Besson proved he could deliver a snazzy, America friendly feature film.
The film's Production Designer, really gave it his all. While New York in the future may not be QUITE as well realized as "Blade Runner"'s full blown futuristic Los Angeles, it's a delight for the eye for none the less . The New York scenes, as well as those in the Middle East and Outer Space were vividly lensed by the Director of Photography.
My favorite scenes are set in New York, and involve flying cars. While bringing to mind both "Blade Runner" and the classic "Metropolis," the scenes are so well done, and involve so many vehicles, that a new standard for such scenes is created that may be hard to top for years to come. The Special Effects here are delightful, as are the FX peppered throughout the rest of the film.
"The Fifth Element" should be rather watchable for many Science Fiction viewers. Willis fans may go into orbit. So hop into your Air Car and buzz on over to your video/laser disc store.