The Fifth Element

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Fifth Element Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Futuristic comic book spectacle fun, but riddled with guns.
  • PG-13
  • 1997
  • 126 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.


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.  


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. 


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


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. 

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8-year-old Written byGiftedDad August 26, 2017

Violence and innuendo abound

Okay, so I watched this last night again for about the 50th time and really analyzed it to see whether my 8-year-old could watch it. We curse around the house,... Continue reading
Adult Written byahmed aiman 99 February 26, 2019

Fun and not Dumb!

Chris Tucker flamboyant character is insufferably annoying, completely useless, and once it appeared on the screen, it hindered the flow of the narrative and ha... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 13, 2013


Teen, 17 years old Written byAGClyde April 13, 2021

Too sexy?

I have watched PG 13 films since I was about seven or eight. I mean, our parents set limits, and they would "fer-fer (skip)" any scenes that were too... Continue reading

What's the story?

It's several centuries in the future and the forces of evil search for "THE 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?

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 in The Fifth Element 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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the nature of the violence in The Fifth Element. 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi action

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