Review: Babylon A.D
Plot: In the distant future- a mercenary (Vin Diesel) is hired to transport a mysterious young woman (Melanie Thierry) from Russia to the U.S- while being pursued by a murderous religious cult.
Review: BABYLON A.D is a mess. I can't really say I'm surprised, as the film has been on the receiving end of some of the worst buzz to come along in a while. Heck- even the director, Mathieu Kassovitz, is telling people to stay away from it. In all fairness, the version of the film released in North America has been significantly re-edited, and it runs ten minutes shorter than the version released in Europe. Whether or not the missing ten minutes make much of a difference- I cannot say. I've only seen the mangled U.S version, but given the extremely disjointed and schizophrenic nature of the film I saw, I doubt an extra ten minutes would make that much of a difference.
The biggest problem with BABYLON A.D is the fact that it's just too damn ambitious for its own good. Kassovitz obviously has this massive, sprawling story he wants to tell, but it's obvious that he had neither the time, nor the money to do this vision justice. As it stands- Babylon A.D is not THAT bad a film. Sure it has its problems, such as horrendously choreographed action scenes (in particular a big throw down at an underground club that's incomprehensible), and obvious audio looping (Gerard Depardieu- who shows up as a Russian gangster, is dubbed by another actor). Flaws aside, for the first hour or so, the film is actually pretty entertaining. It moves at a quick pace, and there's enough going on to ensure the film is never boring. Sadly- the whole thing falls apart when the characters get to New York.
To me, it's this section of the film that seems like it's been cut the most. Something big happens towards the end of the film that completely changes the tone of the film -but by this point, there's only ten minutes left. As a result, a whole lot is left unresolved, and unexplained. Maybe there's another half hour of footage out there that can explain exactly what's going on in this section of the film- but it's all completely nonsensical here.
Another problem with the film is Vin Diesel. After THE FAST & THE FURIOUS came out, I was convinced that he was going to be the next big action hero, but man- the guy pretty much phones in every single role he does (except FIND ME GUILTY). He's extremely lethargic in this film- which is a terrible thing for an action hero to be. He's completely unconvincing (and likely heavily doubled) in the fight scenes and some of his line reading are incredibly inept. Also- I was not terribly fond of his co-star- Melanie Thierry. She's cute as a button, but I wasn't at all taken with her performance, which was fairly annoying and overly precious. Of the cast, only Michelle Yeoh fares well- as a kung fu fighting nun, but she's continuously forced to take a back seat to Diesel & Thierry.
Still, despite its many flaws, I think BABYLON A.D is an intriguing film- if only for the fact that Kassovitz set out to make something bold, and profound. Maybe there's a version of the film that's out there that measures up to the director's original intent- but this definitely is not it.