Mercenary Toorop (Vin Diesel) believes one should “always finish the job,” a sentiment purportedly not shared by Fox execs, who, according to director Mathieu Kassovitz, frustrated his every attempt to properly complete Babylon A.D. But regardless of who’s to blame for this sci-fi saga (based on a novel by Maurice G. Dantec), there’s no debate to be had about its wretchedness, which at least initially stems from the script’s absolute indifference toward establishing its tale’s basic circumstances. What year is it? Why is the Earth a grimy hellhole populated by dirty people shuffling around ramshackle marketplaces? What, more fundamentally, is the planet’s current political and/or cultural condition? Kassovitz’s film doesn’t even feign interest in such essential table-setting, with the only concrete information provided about its imaginary future being that, in 2017, Siberian tigers went extinct and now only exist via second-generation clones. Toorop briefly discusses whether these artificially designed animals are creations of man or God with Aurora (Mélanie Thierry), a blond European from a Mongolian monastery who he’s been hired to smuggle back into the United States by a face-scarred Gérard Depardieu. Such quasi-religious questions become ever-so-slightly more relevant once it becomes clear that the Children of Men-ish secret about Aurora (whom Toorop fears may be carrying a biological weapon) involves a cult run by Charlotte Rampling’s cruel high priestess. Any critique of organized religion as a for-profit sham, however, is lost amid the plot’s herky-jerky progression from one random Eastern European locale to another, its pitiful attempts to turn Toorop into the head of a surrogate family that includes Aurora and her adoptive mother (Michelle Yeoh), and a series of action sequences about as nuanced as the lumbering Diesel’s typically monotone performance. Although its title implies that this desolate future Earth is the ruins of a decadent society, Babylon A.D.—culminating with embarrassingly unintelligible nonsense involving artificial intelligence-enhanced fetuses, virgin births, resurrection and cyborgs—instead seems simply like the aftermath of an artistic apocalypse.
- 20th Century Fox
- 90 min
- Mathieu Kassovitz
- Eric Besnard, Mathieu Kassovitz, Joseph Simas
- Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Mélanie Theirry, Gérard Depardieu, Charlotte Rampling, Lambert Wilson
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