Monday, 16 September 2013

Babylon A. D. (2008)

Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, who also helped to co-write the shambolic screenplay, Babylon A. D. is a movie that I sincerely hoped to enjoy. I'd heard/read a number of bad reviews when it opened back in 2008 but there are many times when I feel that critics forget to consider the comfort value of some mindless entertainment. Unfortunately, everyone who warned viewers away from this film did so with good reason. It's a mess, it borders on being completely incompetent in a number of places and it is, worst of all, dull as ditchwater.

Vin Diesel plays Toorop, an experienced mercenary who takes on the job of delivering a package from Eastern Europe to America. That package is a young girl, Aurora (Melanie Thierry), accompanied by a religious guardian named Sister Rebekah (Michelle Yeoh). Toorop is determined to get the job done, something he will manage by trusting nobody around him, but he starts to think more and more about the consequences of his actions as various parties try to get a hold of the girl. Is she some kind of saviour? Is she a weapon? She may be neither, but Toorop vows to decide her fate if he discovers that others can use her to cause some major death and destruction.

Based on the novel Babylon Babies, by Maurice G. Dantec, Babylon A. D.  is a messy bag of cliches and bad decisions, unhelped by the fact that none of the main characters are all that likeable. Vin Diesel tries hard in a lead role fairly similiar to many of his other lead roles, but Michelle Yeoh is stuck with embarrassingly bad material to work with and Melanie Thierry is shockingly bad from her first moment to the last. Gerard Depardieu is fun, but not in the movie for long enough to make a big enough difference, Mark Strong is as good as ever and Charlotte Rampling doesn't do her C.V. any favours. The appearance of Lambert Wilson simply serves to remind viewers that he was in two of The Matrix movies, sci-fi action films that hold up as the exact opposite of this trash.

Fans of the movie will insist that there's a vision amidst the mess worth struggling to recognise. Mathieu Kassovitz, by all accounts, certainly didn't have an easy, pleasant experience getting this made. But I can't help thinking that the film is SO bad, riddled with so many errors and poor choices, that nothing could be salvaged from it. Action scenes are badly edited and painfully boring, the dialogue is often either cringe-inducing or completely laughable and all of the flaws are made worse by the fact that the film takes itself so seriously and seems to think that it's full of clever, thought-provoking stuff.

It's not.


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