Mathieu Kassovitz’s “Babylon A.D” is a very ambitious science fiction film setting down on a mainly foreign land where depression has hit all countries and crime runs rampant. The best way to sum it up would be Vin Diesel playing Riddick by way of “Children of Men” with a heavy influence of “Escape from New York.” In other words, there’s not much originality in this piece, and it shows. While derivations are a prerequisite these days, you can’t help shake the feeling that 20th Century Fox wanted a more commercial approach to “Children of Men” and that involved dispensing of the thick social commentary and replacing it with a more standard prophesized little girl with amazing powers of mind manipulation.
Apparently eleven minutes shorter than the original edit (which I presume will make way for an Unrated DVD Release), “Babylon A.D.” is a dreadful tedious science fiction mess with aspirations that are destroyed in a haze of terrible dialogue and an impossibly hazy directorial style. Diesel plays Toorop a street wise tough talking bounty hunter who is so hardcore he walks in to groups of men with armed weapons aiming at him to make a dealer pay for selling him a lemon of a gun. He’s chosen to stay informed with the world events, but has also turned himself off to what’s occurring outside his walls. That is until he’s forced with the charge of innocent Aurora. While I like Diesel (honestly I do), I wish he’d be given proper material to give to his fans, or what remaining fans he has and “Bablyon A.D.” just isn’t it.
He’s given some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever heard in a Diesel flick and this is attempted to be distracted by the talents of Michelle Yeoh. Poor Yeoh. She’s such a seasoned, incredible, and beautiful actress and has been given the shaft this summer playing second fiddle in a throwaway courtesy part for “Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” and now she plays off of Diesel in a role that’s almost a silent one. There’s also the brutally grating performance by Mélanie Thierry, who is absolutely shrill as the innocent Aurora, who is so pure she must be kept away from human cruelty and influences. Thierry spends most of the film barking and screaming like a lunatic and displays very little reason to root for her to survive. By the end of the first hour, you’ll pray for her imminent death.
Concurrently, director Kassovitz tries in vain to inject social commentary with mentions of global warming, over population, and depression, all of which will fall on deaf ears for audiences looking for Diesel to kick some ass. “Babylon A.D.” had little chance to inspire optimism in audiences before opening, and the fact that it’s really bad proves that sometimes skepticism is pure common sense. It has plenty of ambition with none of the delivery or potential to deliver. “Babylon A.D.” is a really bad imitation of “Children of Men” with an atmosphere that would fool most people in to believing this to be a sequel to the “Chronicles of Riddick” films. But the lack of originality is only the start of its problems. I want more for Diesel in the way of expertise and skill, and we sadly won’t get it with “Babylon A.D.” where Diesel is aptly in a rut.