BABYLON A.D. - Another Cinema Fodder
BABYLON A.D. (sci-fi action)
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Melanie Thierry and Gerard Depardieu
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
Time: 95 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? Hooo hum. Another noisy futuristic sci-fi actioner following in the heels of 'Wanted' and 'Death Race'. Adapted from the novel 'Babylon Babies' by Maurice G. Dantec, this one does not come close to the standards of 'Blade Runner', 'Matrix' or 'Children of Men' although it portrays its post-apocalyptic world rather impressively.
Co-writer-director Mathieu Kassovitz has used just a few themes of Dantec's book, concentrating mostly on the action parts, making the plot (on bio-engineering) unintelligible and even ridiculous.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The action starts in a 'new' Serbia, where mercenary Toorop (Vin Diesel) is sought by crime lord Gorsky (Gerard Depardieu) to 'deliver' a 'package' to New York. The package turns out to be a young girl named Aurora (Melanie Thierry) and her guardian, Sister Rebecca (Michelle Yeoh), residents of a secluded mountain convent. Given a passport-override device and promises of a handsome fee by Gorsky, Toorop must go through 6,000 miles of treacherous ice and enemy territory to conclude his mission.
HITS & MISSES: It is laughable what Toorop's mission turns out to be when he is done with it. We just can't help wondering how veteran star Charlotte Rampling could keep a straight face and mouth those utterly moronic lines as a modern priestess seeking to develop a new religion. Another casting problem has to do with lead star Vin Diesel who can never convince us that he is in danger anywhere in the course of the movie. As the almost invincible bang-bang hero, he never generates any tension or suspense for his character. Thierry and Yeoh fare better as the mysterious women who have a few aces up their sleeves.
Technically, however, the sets and locations are effective as they are impressive. The bleak, dangerous world of Serbia contrasts spectacularly with the glitzy luxurious life of New York. As for the action shots and Matrix-style camera-work, you would have seen in numerous films before. In Babylon AD, however, most of the shooting and fighting scenes consist of messy, unrelated quick cuts that are more confusing than awe-inspiring.
THE LOWDOWN: Babylon AD is just another summer box-office fodder.