Babylon A.D. is Vin Diesel’s entire career in microcosm. He starts out as a gritty, amoral, selfish murderer a la Pitch Black, gets in a few car chases, pulls off some X-Games stunts, attempts some dramatic stuff which never really works, gets all sci-fi with confusing futuristic plot exposition, and by the end he’s morphed into The Pacifier, a glorified babysitter who has given up his guns for polo shirts and awkwardness with kids. As with every recent Vin Diesel project, when the credits roll, you’ll kick yourself for having been suckered into watching yet another one of his crummy movies.
The one thing all bad Vin Diesel movies have in common is that the film’s problems are never actually his fault. Vin delivers his usual solid, gruff performance in Babylon A.D., but the movie doesn’t deserve him. The film’s director Mathieu Kassovitz has already come out and blamed this disaster on studio interference, and that may be the case. I’m not here to assign blame though, simply to review what shows up on screen. What we have here is a mess.
It starts well enough, with Vin wandering around in a near-future Eastern Europe which looks a lot like the 80s near-future Detroit from Robocop. Vin is a mercenary named Toorop, hired to smuggle a girl named Aurora and her nun caretaker Rebeka into America. The set off through Russia, planning to sneak across the Bering Straight into Canada, even though the Bering Straight connects Russia to Alaska. Perhaps in the future Alaska has been conquered by the Canucks, there’s no real explanation for that or most of the sillier conceits going on in the movie.
The thing is, the closer they get to America the more the movie’s plot starts to stink. Whether it’s because Fox’s lawyers chopped the film to bits or because the script is piece of junk, I can’t tell you. All I can say is that with every step Vin Diesel takes, the less the movie makes sense and the less you want to hang around and see where it ends up. It’s a baffling film, one minute Toorop is a me first, work for the highest bidder killer, the next a guy with a bag of money drops out of the sky (literally) and he decides he’s no longer interested in his own life and chooses to walk off into certain death for someone he doesn’t know and has no reason to care about. Toorop morphs from cynical badass to stupid pussy for no apparent reason, and we’re supposed to buy it.
Even with its completely inconsistent characters, Babylon A.D. might have been sort of fun. In fact it is, for the first 40 or 50 minutes. There’s some mildly entertaining action sequences, done with average stunts and practical effects. It feels like you’re watching a particularly well executed episode of post apocalyptic thriller on the Sci Fi channel. At some point though, the fun stops and it becomes such a total mess that all you can do is laugh at it. The movie has no idea how to wrap things up and even worse, no idea how to explain any of what’s been going on. There’s some mumbo jumbo about virgin births which never amounts to anything, and some vague allusions to a cultish, corporate religion, but not enough explanation to connect the dots between any of it. I still have no idea why we were following around most of the people in this movie, and I don’t know that the actors in it do either. If they don’t know what they’re doing, then it’s doubtful you will. Don’t bother buying a ticket.
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