BABYLON A.D. —the location—might actually be a more enjoyable place to spend 101 minutes of your ever-ticking life rather than waste them suffering through this 2008 actioner, another in the bulging Vin Diesel arsenal of dumb adventures with the stale formula of Continual Brute Aggression + Tenderness Lurking Beneath. Decent actors go down with the ship this time out—Michelle Yeoh, Mélanie Thierry, Gérard Depardieu, Charlotte Rampling, Mark Strong, Lambert Wilson.
In 2027—coming right up, if we’re lucky/unlucky—a Russian gangster hires sullen mercenary ‘Toorop’ (The Vin) to escort a young, seemingly schizophrenic woman from Europe to New York. She turns out to have ‘extraordinary powers’, and the 90-minute road to Manhattan is marked by tiresome battles with other mercenaries. Some twisted religion is involved. Mongolian nuns figure in. Casualties are numerous. Exchanged glares are common, as are vacuous statements meant to be taken as something Heavy. Your brain dies a little.
Loud, ugly, derivative, incoherent and pointless—so is there a point to say much more? No. Okay, okay.. it has a decent music score (ominous throbbing with Nordic choir overtone variety) from Atli Orvarsson. *
Filming was done in Sweden, Norway, Czech Republic and France, and the mix of mayhem chewed up $70,000,000, but possibly more than a few Dieselites caught the A.D. reviews (it croaked 6% on “Rotten Tomatoes”) as they only coughed up $72,109,200 planet-wide, 69th place for the year. Directed & co-written by Mathieu Kassovitz, who spent five years developing the project off a 1999 novel called “Babylon Babies”, written by Maurice G. Dantec. To his credit, when he saw it he said it played like a “bad episode of 24” and referred to his star as “a completely idiot actor”. He later whanged up a documentary about the studio-interfered production. He called it Fucking Kassovitz, indicating it is likely a lot more fun to watch than the movie.
* Like this comment from Ben Lyons of “At The Movies”: “I unfortunately had a seat that faced the screen…”