Babylon A.D.


It’s well known that director Mathieu Kassovitz isn’t on speaking terms with Fox any more. Apparently the studio had its grubby fingers all over the production of Babylon A.D., and it shows.

It’s got elements that hint at how good it could have been. As a type of Children of Men/The Fifth Element crossover, it has potential. The production design is great, the special effects are decent enough and the vision is overall quite effective. The action scenes are okay, too.Babylon A.D. The story feels like a whole lot of half-hearted attempts at an interesting idea, and this is where I can only assume (since this is from the director that brought us the awesome La Haine) that all the clever plot points were blunted in an attempt to make the film a little more mainstream.

In the not too distant future, Mercenary Toorop (Vin Diesel) is given the job of transporting the mysterious and naïve (and beautiful, of course) Aurora (Mélanie Thierry) from crumbling Russia to America. They are accompanied by Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh), a monk who abhors violence yet can take care of herself (okay, so that bit doesn’t sound so classy). The film keeps the real story pretty much hidden for the duration, and I get the feeling that all would have been forgiven if it had come up with a really good explanation for it all. Alas, the mystery is explained in one woeful sentence that feels as if it was added in post, and delivered by none other than Charlotte Rampling, which makes it even worse.

Poor Diesel can’t seem to strike the big time, no matter what he does. He probably thought he was onto a sure fire thing with this film. Unfortunately his character isn’t that far removed from Riddick (of Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick), and here he delivers nothing but cheesy lines to supposedly explain his nihilism, but does little more than make us squirm. Gérard Depardieu is along for the ride, too, though don’t ask me why. The most exciting aspect of his role is that they gave him a prothetic nose, which makes his seem even bigger (I know, it sounds impossible, right?).

The action scenes would make Mark queasy, but more importantly they’re pointless, and usually make little sense. If this had been wedged between ten other pretty crappy sci-fi flicks at a 24 hour movie marathon, it might have been more enjoyable, but on its own Babylon A.D. isn’t really worth your money.

Rating: 2 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 10th October 2008
Hoopla Factor: 2 stars

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