Not exactly Babylon
, 09 Dec 2008
Fraught with delays and problems during production, Babylon AD is perhaps better known for the fact that it's own director, Mathieu Kassovitz, slammed the film before release, labeling it as little more than a 'bad episode of 24'. Due to alleged interference from Twentieth Century Fox the original script was severely cut by as much as 70 minutes to bring it into the hour and a half bracket. And it shows, with a disparate and at times perplexing pace that clearly leaves a lot unsaid. But despite this there is still the shadow of what the film could have been, and is worth a rental if you're a fan of Sci-Fi, though if you're not it may be better to give this one a miss.
Based on the 1999 book 'Babylon Babies' by Maurice Georges Dantec, Babylon AD is about one man's struggle to stay alive when he accepts a mission to escort a young girl to America. But as expected the mission isn't so straight forward, and the mercenary Toorop soon finds that his young charge is far more than she seems. Sadly what exactly she 'is' is not explained very well through the course of the film and instead of developing the story the film runs through a serious of action sequences (some more impressive than others) before hurtling at light speed to a rather disappointing ending. And this is where the cuts are very obvious: within the space of around ten minutes the protagonists go from a submarine under the ice, to a jet ski battle, before suddenly coming to an upmarket apartment in New York. Whew!
Overall Babylon Ad isn't as bad as some have made out (even the director) but thats only if you're willing to forgive it's glaring problems. Vin Diesel puts in a decent performance, though is starting to look a lot more wrinkly around the edges. Michelle Yeoh gives a similar performance to her other films (which is no bad thing) and Melanie Thierry is perfect as the innocent wide eyed charge put into Vin's care. But there's definitely been a missed opportunity here and we can only hope that a directors cut will make it's way to DVD in the future. Then we may see what this story really has to give.
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