The Fifth Element (French: Le Cinquième Élément) is a 1997 English-language French science fiction film directed, co-written, and based on a story by Luc Besson. The film stars Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, and Milla Jovovich. Mostly set during the twenty-third century, the film’s central plot involves the survival of humanity, which becomes the duty of Korben Dallas (Willis)—a taxicab driver (and former special forces Major)—when a young woman (Jovovich) falls into his taxicab. Upon learning about her significance, Dallas must join efforts with the girl to recover four mystical stones essential to defending Earth from an impending attack.
In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, extraterrestrials known as Mondoshawans arrive at an ancient Egyptian temple to collect from a secret chamber, for safekeeping, the only weapon capable of defeating a Great Evil that appears every five thousand years. The weapon consists of four stones, representing the four classical elements, and a sarcophagus that contains a Fifth Element in the form of a human, which combines the power of the other four elements into a “Divine Light”. The Mondoshawans promise their human contact, a priest, they will return with the Elements in time to stop the Great Evil, but an accident forces them to give their key to the chamber to the priest and instruct him to pass it on to future generations until they return.
In the mid 23rd Century, the Great Evil appears in space in the form of a giant ball of black fire and destroys an Earth battleship. The current priest of the Mondoshawan key, Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm), informs President Lindberg (Tom Lister, Jr.) of the history of the Great Evil and the weapon that can stop it. As the Mondoshawans return to Earth, they are ambushed by the shape-shifting Mangalores, the remnants of an outlawed, warlike alien race hired by the industrialist Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman), who was himself hired by the Great Evil to dispose of the element stones. The Mondoshawan’s spacecraft is destroyed and the only thing Earth scientists recover is the hand of the Fifth Element, which they use to create a humanoid woman, known as “Leeloo” (Jovovich). Terrified of her unfamiliar surroundings, she escapes confinement and jumps off a ledge to land in the flying taxicab of Korben Dallas (Willis), a former major in the Special Forces.
Dallas delivers Leeloo to Cornelius and his apprentice, David (Charlie Creed-Miles), whereupon Cornelius learns that the four Element stones were entrusted to Diva Plavalaguna (Maïwenn Le Besco), an opera singer. Because the Mangalores failed to obtain the stones, Zorg kills them, but their compatriots attempt to obtain the Elements for themselves. Upon learning from the Mondoshawans that Plavalaguna has the stones, General Munro (Brion James), Dallas’ former superior, re-enlists Dallas and orders him to travel undercover, as a rigged radio contest winner, to meet the Diva on a luxury cruise in space. The publicity of the contest attracts the Mangalores and Zorg to the space liner. Dallas takes Leeloo with him, while Cornelius instructs David to prepare the temple and stows away aboard the vessel.
The Diva is killed when the Mangalores attack and take over the ship, but Dallas retrieves the Elements from the Diva’s body. He fights the Mangalores to liberate the ship, killing their leader. Zorg searches for the Elements; he finds a carrying case, assumes the elements are in it, and leaves behind a time bomb that causes the liner’s occupants to evacuate. Zorg departs on his spacecraft but discovers the case to be empty, so he returns to search for the Elements. He deactivates the bomb, but a dying Mangalore activates his own bomb, destroying the ship and killing Zorg, while Dallas, Cornelius, Leeloo, and talk-show host Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker} escape with the Elements aboard Zorg’s spacecraft.
The four return to the weapon chamber at the Egyptian temple as the Great Evil approaches. The group arranges the stones; but Leeloo has become disenchanted with humanity after having come to witness the brutality of war and violence and refuses to release the Divine Light. Dallas confesses his love for Leeloo and kisses her. In response, Leeloo combines the power of the stones and releases the Divine Light, causing the Great Evil to become dormant as a new moon in Earth’s orbit.
Earth scientists assure President Lindberg that the Great Evil is dead. Korben and Leeloo are brought in by scientists and placed together in a healing tank to recuperate. When the President arrives and demands to see them one of the scientists informs him that “they need…five more minutes”, as Korben and Leeloo have begun consummating their love.
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First Published: Jan 1, 2013 – Last Updated: Jun 27, 2013