Babylon A.D. Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz
Starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Melanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Gerard Depardieu
Release date: August 29, 2008
Earlier this week director Mathieu Kassovitz told AMC that he was very unhappy with Babylon A.D.. “It’s pure violence and stupidity,” he admits. “The movie is supposed to teach us that the education of our children will mean the future of our planet. All the action scenes had a goal: They were supposed to be driven by either a metaphysical point of view or experience for the characters”¦ instead parts of the movie are like a bad episode of 24.”
Ultimately, Kassovitz is correct in everything he said but that didn’t make me hate the film, but nothing was enough for me to like it either. To me, the film seemed like someone tried to take Children of Men, Blade Runner, Minority Report, The Fifth Element , and Serenity and attempted to incorporate all the best elements into this post-apocalyptic tale, which ended up instead being nothing short of The Bodyguard or Waterworld, where you have a stoic male character protecting a younger female character. As the director himself put it, this film was simply a bunch of cut action scenes that blend together into a story that had absolutely no character development or story all.
Vin Diesel does well playing a stoic, anti-hero mercenary that takes a job transporting a girl from Russia to America. His character, Toorop, finds that the girl he is transporting actually has a secret that could mean the next Messiah, or something like that. The film is based on the novel, Babylon Babies, by French author, Maurice Georges Dantec. Kassovitch claims that the film, like the book, was supposed to explore the impact children have on the future of the planet, but that concept does not come across symbolically or within the context of the story. The girl he is transporting, Aurora, is probably the biggest bright spot of the film. She’s played by Melanie Thierry, who really brought a sweetness to the screen and I think she is someone we will see more of in the future of film (I can see her being in a Bond movie).
But let’s get to the point. This movie had no structure and no inept sequence of story to keep you wondering about the events to come or the characters. You get the typical action hero lines such as, “There is no mercy for the weak” or “I only have one rule” or my personal favorite, “It’s either kill or be killed.” You also never get an explanation about Aurora’s apparent “gifts” and why she is so important.
The worst thing is you don’t care about anyone in this film. The film also manages to be boring on top of all its other flaws thus making it a hard movie to sit through anytime of day. This is a movie that fits right in with other futuristic film flops like Johnny Neumonic or Simple Days, but the thing is I like those movies more because with those films at least know what you’re getting. With Babylon A.D., it seemed like Fox thought they might have the next Blade Runner movie, but sadly, that’s not the case. I am interested to see if the studio will give Kassovitch a Director’s Cut DVD to make the film he wanted. The lesson here is listen to the director when he says his own film is bad.