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The Fifth Element Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Besson may have misfired with The Fifth Element, but at least he does it with flair and a sense of humor.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Susan Wloszczyna

    But for all the fancy-schmancy effects (budget: $90 million-plus), the vision of a hypercongested metropolis is not much more sophisticated than an episode of "The Jetsons." [9 May 1997]

  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    The future-shock details are witty, the sets and skyscapes spectacular. Besson may not be a good director, exactly, but he's a wizard at retrofitting cliches.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    I would not have missed seeing this film, and I recommend it for its richness of imagery. But at 127 minutes, which seems a reasonable length, it plays long.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    It's ludicrous, but it's fun. Besson is a filmmaker so in love with his own daffy excesses that he's able to pull us, laughing, right into his world of loony pop. [9 May 1997]

  • See all The Fifth Element reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Futuristic comic book spectacle fun, but riddled with guns.

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.

  • 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?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    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.

  • rolemodels true2

    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.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    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 false3

    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 false2

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

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Coke, McDonald's.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and 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.