Babylon A.D. (2008)

Rating: *
Review Date: 4/29/18
Fight Choreography: David Belle
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Mélanie Thierry, Mark Strong, Charlotte Rampling, Gérard Depardieu, David Belle

Toorop (Vin Diesel) is an exiled American mercenary living in Russia, who takes a job to smuggle a young girl (Mélanie Thierry) into New York with the promise of starting a new life with a new identity. But it won't be easy... The girl has mysterious powers and everyone wants to get their hands on her, including a powerful religious corporation that sees her as the new messiah.

I'd heard that this was a bad movie, but I didn't expect it to be this terrible. Even the director dismissed the film as garbage when it came out, claiming that Twentieth Century Fox ruined it with their meddling. But I can't imagine it being entirely the studio's fault. The characters are dull and unlikable and the film goes out of its way to be unpleasant, which leaves you with nothing to care about. The action scenes are extremely disappointing, and suffer from messy camera work and chaotic editing. It takes a special kind of incompetence to fail so completely at capturing Michelle Yeoh's performance. The visual effects don't fare much better, and the CGI work is garish and unattractive. The underlying theme of science vs. religion that's so prevalent in dystopian science fiction fails to be interesting or engaging in this outing, and comes across as complete nonsense. I saw the director's cut, which adds an extra fifteen minutes of philosophizing, tones down the action, and does away with the happy ending of the theatrical version, but the end result just seems to be a slower paced narrative. Add some tonally inconsistent narration and shitty rap music to the soundtrack, and the package is complete. There really isn't anything worthwhile about the movie, with the possible exception of Charlotte Rampling's sinister villain. Vin Diesel reportedly bowed out of "Hitman" (2007) to star in this film, which in hindsight seems like a very poor choice. It probably sounded good at the time, since sci-fi action films are almost always better than video game adaptations.