The Fifth Element Movie Poster Image

The Fifth Element

(i)

 

Futuristic comic book spectacle fun, but riddled with guns.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1997
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though it may be a mighty battle and fight to the death, good ultimately triumphs over evil. Love is a crucial element in any civilization's survival. These messages are delivered with heaps of violence and sexuality. 

Positive role models

The male lead is unorthodox and cynical, but endowed with all the qualities that make him a classic hero: courage, honesty, loyalty, and gallantry. The female hero is innocent and unaware, but delivers the goods; she's fierce, pure, brave, and powerful. All other female characters are depicted as foolish, star-struck sexual objects. Lots of racial interaction; the future is basically seen as colorblind.

Violence

Nonstop comic book violence. There are space battles, hideous alien creatures, martial arts combat, fierce gunfights during which lethal weapons of all kinds spray bullets, throw fire, and destroy everything in their paths. Bullets and bodies fly; explosions wipe out entire planets; blood gushes and blood drips (blue, red, and black dependent upon the species) in multiple scenes.  

Sex

A leading female character is partially nude in a number of scenes, twice with her nipples briefly exposed in the background. One lengthy sequence finds that woman wearing only strategically-placed white tape. A very silly scene implies that oral sex is taking place offscreen, only the recipient's outlandish reaction is visible. Some kissing. Women in service roles wear revealing clothes, including plunging necklines and very short skirts. 

Language

Occasional swearing: "s--t," "hell," "ass," "screwed," "damn," "bastard." 

Consumerism

Coke, McDonald's.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Several characters smoke futuristic cigarettes, which are shown to be about 3/4 filter and 1/4 actual cigarette. A priest is seen drinking at a bar and appears to be slightly drunk. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Fifth Element moves from one action sequence to another in quick succession In all cases, the comic book violence is loud, magnified, and very much in your face. There are explosions, gunfights, creepy mutant aliens, mustache-twirling villains, bodies dropping on all sides, futuristic car chases, and battles to the death. Assorted lethal villains carry powerful, multi-purpose weapons and use them indiscriminately, spraying gunfire in crowded places and blowing up entire planets and spaceships. The female hero is seen numerous times in a partially nude state, including once wearing only carefully-placed tape. In general, the sexuality is played for laughs: one scene implies that a couple is engaged in oral sex, but it's shot from the shoulders up; in other sequences women wear very revealing outfits. A bit of language ("s--t" and "ass"), smoking, and drinking.

What's the story?

It's several centuries in the future and the forces of evil search for the elusive "fifth element," which when united with water, wind, Earth, and fire, will enable them to destroy all living things. Only the unwavering efforts of a sardonic cab driver (Bruce Willis), an enlightened priest (Ian Holm), and a valiant female super-being from an uncorruptible distant world (Milla Jovovich) can save civilization. In their quest, the three must elude capture by the authorities on their own pleasure-seeking, celebrity-obsessed home planet, as well as battle nefarious villains of all species, shapes and sizes, including the bloodthirsty Zorg (Gary Oldman, who has created an criminal even more outrageous than his usual).

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Simplicity is not one of the virtues of this fantastical effort by French director Luc Besson to come up with a most American comic book adventure. His goal, along with the writers and production artists, is to provide a nonstop actioner with magic in its design, larger-than-life heroes and villains, and great comic set pieces that playfully make fun of this century's excesses.

The story isn't easy to follow, but it doesn't really matter because the audience is never in one place long enough to stop and ponder it. Characters check in and out regularly, getting increasingly more bizarre. These include Chris Tucker as a hyperbolic radio icon in drag (who makes absolutely no sense in relation to the rest of the plot) and the "Diva Plavalaguna," a mutant alien opera singer who bleeds blue and carries a very big plot hole along with her very big voice. Still Besson has succeeded in creating a fast-paced, clever, even romantic adventure with battles that should satisfy even the most ardent comic book fans.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the nature of the violence in this film. Is cartoon violence easier to accept than real violence? Are the larger-than-life characters, including space aliens, as scary as real villains? At what age do you think kids know the difference between real and make believe violence?

  • How was commercial activity and marketing portrayed in this movie? Do you think it's a realistic vision of the future? Is that something that bothers you or does it seem normal? What is the effect of being constantly marketed to?

  • The filmmakers presented their picture of life on earth in the future. What kind of world would you create if you were making a movie or writing a book? What would you want to save from today's civilization? What would you want to eliminate?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 9, 1997
DVD/Streaming release date:December 10, 1997
Cast:Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich
Director:Luc Besson
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense sci-fi violence, some sexuality and brief nudity

This review of The Fifth Element was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Blade Runner Poster Image
    A dark, philosophical sci-fi drama for older teens.
  • X-Men Poster Image
    Comic-book adaptation has brains, brawn, and style.
  • District 9 Poster Image
    Sci-fi stunner is smart but gory; way too violent for kids.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bystevmm April 9, 2008

Fun, dumb movie

The big surprise here is how often Milla's breasts were put on display in a PG-13 movie. Sure, cleavage and underboob are to be expected, but she takes it all off--once briefly, once a bit blurry, and only once out of frame. The movie itself? It's part parody, part satire--Terry Gilliam's Brazil if Terry Gilliam had just watched Die Hard 1 through 3 the eighty-second time. There's really two movies here, and it can't decide which one it wants to be more... so it splits right down the middle. It's both! Also, a lot of the violence is bloody--but with funny colors, so that's supposed to be okay. A lot of the characters show the consequences of violence... I mean, watch Milla get shot and moan, and it twists your stomach. Weak acting or not. Luc Besson is one of the most stylish light-weight directors out there, and it really shows. This movie wants to be more, and that really helps push past the comedy and put a little bit of depth into it... even though it's still a movie about 'ultimate evil' versus 'the pure light,' and love does conquer all in the end.
Kid, 12 years old December 26, 2009

11, too young; 12, fine

The violence wasnt too bad, but there is quite a few innuendoes. When Milla is first created she is naked. You only see the back of her, not including her butt. But then, a few scenes later she is changing and she takes of her shirt if front of two men who quickly turn around. Her boobs are out of focus but it is still kind of inappropriate. I think the biggest thing though, is the big radio star is shown making out with a girl that is very skimpily dressed. They then only show the top half of her with the radio host kneeling and "playing" with her "private area" which is not shown and she is squealing and squeaking. He pops up and she says "Are you sure you've never felt this way before?" and he stops to think about it and then says yes and goes back down. They later show her screaming with pleasure.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages
Parent Written byhealerdoria August 15, 2011

Good grounded, older child film

Watch out for the religious themes. Overall a fun movie if the child is confident in fantasy vs. reality.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex