The Fifth Element

Bomb Rating: 

Large chunks of "The Fifth Element" are happily devoted to sheer annoyance.

If you want to blame someone for completely screwing up Luc ("La Femme Nikita") Besson's science fiction thriller, "The Fifth Element," blame the French. Large chunks of "The Fifth Element" are happily devoted to sheer annoyance. There's an obsession with set design and fashion that becomes all but a fetish. There's a fixation on gadgetry that defies the narrative. Who better to blame for all the trivialities of the film than the French, whose culture elevated triviality to a reflective art form?

There are a couple of visual jokes in this film that Besson better hope aren't taken the wrong way lest he end up floating face down in a harbor somewhere. One involves a rather large, ugly woman with a Princess Leia hairdo. The other entails the film's stupidest, most annoying character holding something that resembles a cheap light saber at the movie's conclusion. Why bother being coy, Luc? Why not just have the guy stick that light saber up the ass of a George Lucas look-alike?

His two slaps to the face of "Star Wars" are contained within a story that has all the intrigue of a "Dick and Jane" book. The ultimate evil has come to wipe out life in the 23rd century and the only thing that can save it are some stones and a fifth element, which turns out to be a girl named Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). Pursued by the police and battling the evil Zorg (Gary Oldman) and evil Mangalor mercenaries, Leeloo gets help from cabbie and former military badass, Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis).

For a while, I thought the "fifth element" was actually "freak coincidence," especially when Leeloo just happened to fall into Korben's cab. Fate, you say? More likely a screenwriter out of ideas. That Leeloo falls into a NYC cab with an English-speaking cab driver (even though she speaks an ancient tongue) is even more unbelievable. If Besson can't even get the basics right, how am I supposed to accept his conception of the 23rd century?

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