Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz
“In the darkly futuristic world of ‘Babylon A.D.,’ the rules are simple: kill or be killed. Hard-hitting action superstar Vin Diesel (‘The Fast and the Furious,’ ‘The Chronicles of Riddick’), stars as Toorop, a ruthless mercenary hired to smuggle a mysterious young woman from the post-apocalyptic confines of Eastern Europe to the glittering megalopolis of New York City. Hunted at every turn, Toorop spirits his charge across a nightmarish wasteland only to uncover a shocking secret that will bring the entire world to its knees. Eye-popping action and mind-blowing science fiction clash head-on in this hard-edged thriller, where the only rule is survival.”
This version of “Babylon A.D.” is unrated. The theatrical version was rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some sexuality.
“Babylon A.D.” is kind of a poor copy of “The Fifth Element” mixed with “Children of Men.” The problem is it lacks the charm, creativity and quirkiness of “The Fifth Element” and it lacks the drama, emotion, and powerful acting of “Children of Men.” “Babylon A.D.” still manages to do a few things right. The Eastern European setting is unique and interesting. The race across Russia to the Arctic is also cool. There are also a lot of interesting touches with this near-future / post-apocalyptic environment. The technology, settings, and weaponry are fun to see. There are also some beautiful shots of blown-up cities, submarines breaking through ice, flying drone fighters, and other cool stuff. However, all this good stuff is dragged down by the weak story.
First of all, the audience is rather unceremoniously dumped into this world. You have no real idea what’s going on, why our hero is in Eastern Europe, what the politics are, when it takes place, or much of anything else. Even when the movie is finished you’re still left with a lot of unanswered questions. You’re also blasted with a lot of criticisms of politics, religion, capitalism, big business, science, and just about everything else that is the typical target of these bleak future stories. Unfortunately, the movie never makes a clear statement with any of these criticisms. Then there’s Vin Diesel’s character Toorop. I like Diesel when he’s cast in the right kind of film. However here he’s practically invincible. When twenty guys aim guns at him at point blank range, he scowls at them and they jump back. It’s machismo cranked up to 11 and it’s absurd. I’m a big fan of Michelle Yeoh but her talents aren’t really effectively used as Sister Rebeka. She has a couple of brief fight scenes, but it seems pretty toned down from her previous work. We’re getting Yeoh-light here. Mélanie Thierry is kind of interesting as Aurora. She transforms from innocent teen to woman over the course of the film, but the fact that she’s channeling Leeloo really hurts her performance. And the fact that she inexplicably changes allegiances halfway through the film ends up being quite ridiculous.
If you’re bored and have nothing else to watch and you like sci-fi, then “Babylon A.D.” is probably something you’ll find worth checking out. It’s not memorable, but I don’t think it’s quite as bad as you may have been led to believe. I think Vin Diesel fans will be a bit more forgiving of the film’s flaws.
The bonus features are your standard offerings – interviews, behind the scenes featurettes, galleries, and the other usual stuff. There’s one featurette talking about “Babylon Babies,” the book the film was based on. The author is interviewed and everyone involved states why the book attracted them to the movie. There’s also an animated comic book detailing the beginning of Aurora. However, if two people chatting in a lab isn’t entertaining to you, then this probably will be of little interest.