Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz
Premise: In a dystopian future, a mercenary (Vin Diesel) must escort a mysterious teenage girl (Mélanie Thierry) and her mentor (Michelle Yeoh) from Russia to America.
What Works: The opening of Babylon A.D. is unique within this kind of dystopian science fiction. Following in the footsteps of Children of Men, the film presents a future that is credible in its look and in its politics. The world is not so removed from today and that gives the opening an interesting look.
What Doesn’t: Babylon A.D. takes a long time to get going and even when it finally does, the film is very underwhelming. The story is cast in the same mold as Children of Men and Serenity but it doesn’t have a coherent path or destination. It is unclear where this group is going, why they are going there, and what is at stake if they fail. The film withholds this information from the audience to keep us guessing but rather than letting the puzzle piece itself together, Babylon A.D. keeps withholding information up until the very end of the picture, and when it’s finally revealed the secret is not very shocking. Babylon A.D. hints at a political theme or message akin to The Golden Compass or even The Planet of the Apes, tying religion, government, and organized crime together, but the film never commits to it because the story keeps all of the outside political structures and supporting characters at a distance. Aside from lacking a discernible goal for the heroes there is no coherent antagonist in the film, no one to intentionally stop them from traveling to America. Instead, throughout the journey the film spontaneously bursts into action scenes that don’t advance the characters or the story and instead play as a loop of stunts from previous Vin Diesel films like XXX and The Fast and the Furious.
Bottom Line: Babylon A.D. is a disappointing film. There are nuggets of good things along the way but without a coherent story or a sense of purpose the film just turns into an empty collection of stunts.
Episode: #203 (September 7, 2008)