Yes, believe it or not, the “XXX” movies now have a mythology. And a back story. And supporting characters. Now that America has officially found the “Jason Bourne” series a bit worn, Vin Diesel makes his return with his clunky and ridiculous “XXX” movie series, reprising his role as the rebellious, bald, smart ass anti-hero Xander Cage. This is a break from playing the rebellious, bald, smart ass anti-hero Dominic Torreto, and the rebellious, bald, smart ass anti-hero Riddick, and–the rebellious, bald, smart ass anti-hero in “Babylon A.D.” After the unwatchable dumpster fire that was “XXX: State of the Union” the studio brings Diesel back to prop up a light reboot and sequel of “XXX” that also opens up a world for more movies of this ilk.
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.
So, call me a sucker, and have pity on me, but one of the saving graces for this was Brittany Snow. I got a thing for that gal, and she really helped me cruise through this without shutting it off and throwing it out the window. I’ve had a thing for her since “American Dreams” and she’s fun to look at during this crap fest. Meanwhile, the very funny Brad Garrett really pulls off the villain role here with his tough grizzled machismo fueled character and really does entertain where the others fail. “The Pacifier”, is undoubtedly a vehicle for Diesel whose popularity has seriously wavered. Now, attempting to cash in on his image in a children’s film, he’s not so much slumming it, but I saw it as him really just taking the comedic route ala Schwarzenegger in the much more enjoyable “Kindergarten Cop” to branch out with his career.
Diesel stars as Sean Vetter a DEA agent who with his friend Demetrius Hicks are in the midst of taking down a brutal drug cartel led by Memo Lucera (Geno Silva); after busting him and taking down the crime ring that they’ve spent seven years investigating, Sean finally can take some off-time. Enter wife Stacy, the loving beautiful wife to the character of Sean. By now, if you haven’t seen the movie, you can guess what will happen next, and do I even have to tell you anything else besides the fact that she becomes a motivation for vengeance? Watch the trailer and you won’t even have to see the movie. Simply because the plot twist is predictable and formula.
I went into this movie with generally low expectations, I mean with a movie that was shelved constantly for nearly four years and re-shot numerously, I had no doubt this would be a flop. Those expectations seemingly helped this movie, because I was pleasantly surprised. Probably the most intriguing part of the movie is Barry Pepper’s character that wants badly to be one of the guys in the mob but can’t find the strength to pull a trigger. He pulls the Brooklyn accent off well, and never goes over the top. He’s a regular guy who wants to work like everyone else but can’t quite get past the name. He tough and intimidating and very likeable as well. Seth Green is his usual self but is likeable all at the same time; he’s annoying and irritating but he serves his purpose as the character.