Review: Babylon A.D.


Filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz was wise to disown this cack-handed dystopian action clanger. He’s right, it is “pure violence and stupidity”, and by saying so while pointing at his producers (who hacked scenes to make it a US PG-13) there’s a hint that maybe on the cutting room floor, or at least the original storyboard, was something much better.

But who knows? Kassovitz still must have presided over a lazy, dunderheaded Vin Diesel performance, attempting to break into sensitivity half way through and only succeeding in sounding like he desperately needs to cough up the remnants of a biscuit. He must also have seen rushes of Gerard Depardieu making a total berk of himself as a cackling underworld boss, and Michelle Yeoh’s completely improbable ninja nun workouts. Unless he was literally bound and gagged in the corner while the cameras rolled, he can’t be entirely blameless.

Still, the sheer obviousness of the continuity howlers (anyone know who the kid is on Yeoh’s knee in the train?), plus the jarring mood swings – one second there’s death and trauma in the snow, the next everyone’s chuckling heartily – and the tacked-on, pathetic ending, all do point to a bloodbath in the editing suite. So perhaps somewhere amidst the fudged ‘people smuggling/new dominant religion’ themes, the naff characters and the relentlessly dumb chase sequences was a genuinely thought-provoking sci-fi thriller, aborted because the producers think most filmgoers are idiots.

Diesel apparently quit the lead role in Hitman to do this. If ever there was a ‘frying pan’ and ‘fire’ moment, that was it, because this sounds like it was a dog’s dinner of a production, and it’s resulted in a misfiring, frequently incomprehensible mess of a movie. Save your cash.