The Fifth Element (Luc Besson, 1997)


This week the Central Cinema, home of Seattle’s most adventurous double features, revives one of the key oddities of the late 1990s, Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, as unstable a collection of genres, tones and actors as you’re likely to find in the mainstream cinema. 300 years from now, Bruce Willis, bleached but otherwise comfortably within his Die Hard star persona, is an ex-military agent who has the key to saving the universe fall into his lap (almost literally). That key is the by definition perfect form of Milla Jovovich, a genetically supreme being that is the fifth part of a machine some aliens have installed in the Egyptian desert as a device to defeat the periodically occurring onslaught of Evil, which takes the form of a planet sized black hole that devours everything like Orson Welles in Transformers the Movie. Because of Luke Perry, we’re not as prepared for Evil’s arrival as we should be and a bumbling priest (played by Ian Holm at the peak of the bumbling priest phase of his career) is the only one who knows what’s really going on: Evil has allied itself with Gary Oldman (playing Ross Perot with Hitler’s hair) to steal the magic rocks that make up the rest of the Milla-machine from an alien opera singer. And Chris Tucker is there playing Prince if Prince was really, really loud.

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