Theatrical Review: Babylon A.D.

In the near future, a mercenary based in Russia, Toorop, is contracted to make sure that he gets a mysterious young woman named Aurora from the ravages of a post-apocalyptic Eastern Europe to New York City. He picks the girl up at a Mongolian monastery where she’s accompanied by her guardian, Sister Rebekah. Now the three begin a dangerous cross continental trek to find out what is the true secret of Aurora’s origin.

Babylon A.D. comes to us from director Matthieu Kassovitz, who’s really impressed me in the past with movies like La Haine and The Crimson Rivers and more recently behind a less impressive movie like Gothika. Unfortunately, Babylon A. D. falls into the less impressive category.

It’s hard to fault director Kassovitz entirely for this due to some problems behind his control, the movie fell behind production schedule and was running significantly over-budget and due to that, 20th Century Fox basically took over control of the final cut of the film.

There’s some good ideas at work here, and a nice sense of atmosphere built into the film. But scenes don’t necessarily flow as they should, and some characterizations seem to take a 180 degree turn right between scenes (mostly around Vin Diesel’s character of Toorov). There’s also a little too much asking of this question “What’s going on?” by the character of Aurora played by Melanie Thierry which just seems to stop any flow whatsoever, as if to be there just to make sure the audience is up to speed, making the whole thing come off more as a dumbed down version of Children of Men more than anything else.

I could certainly forgive some of this if it’s final revelation of the origin of Aurora was done in some more interesting and involving way than through fast dialogue in two separate scenes one from Lambert Wilson, who plays her “father” and the other from Charlotte Rampling who plays the leader of a religious sect called the Neolites looking for religious validity. This explanation is just boring especially in light of some of the things that they have Aurora do during the film.

The cast is pretty good executing what’s there on-screen, in addition to the above-mentioned, Michelle Yeoh plays Sister Rebekah and Gerard Depardieu plays Gorsky, the man who contracts Toorov for the job. It’s just that the way it’s all “seamed” together it just never comes through that well.

There’s probably a really good movie somewhere to be found, and maybe that would’ve come about if Kassovitz had entire control and maybe it wouldn’t. So far, much like the similarly-themed Ultraviolet from director Kurt Wimmer (which also had it’s control wrested from it’s director), there doesn’t seem to be any sort of “director’s cut” planned at present. Not awful by any means (there’s good ideas here and some good set pieces), but in no way really good either, and it’s a shame because there is some good talent at work here.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

31. August 2008 by Darren Goodhart
Categories: Text Reviews, Theatrical Review | Leave a comment

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