It stars Vin Diesel, it has been publicly disowned and lambasted by director Mathieu Kassovitz, it has suffered innumerable atrocities at the cutting room floor by the hands of meddling studio executives, and it has been called the poor man's Children Of Men by most. Why, then, would you want to watch this film? Did I mention it stars Vin Diesel?
Still, for the brave ones that want to venture in, or for some inexplicable reason actually like Diesel, there must be an explanation as to why the film sucks eggs (that's the third grader in me kicking in). Diesel's stab at stardom is like a crazy homeless man - incoherent, disheveled, and completely repulsive, and yet you feel sorry for him and give him some money, probably because of a few snatches of intrigue and directorial vision that the film tries to show in the middle of all the cacophony.
The future of Babylon AD's envisioning is an interesting place, and gives Kassovitz room to explore religious fanaticism, overpopulation, corporate greed and growing fascism in times of crisis. Thoorop (Diesel) accepts a contract from a Russian ganglord to bring to him a girl called Aurora (MÃ©lanie Thierry) to New York. Thoorop must travel across countries under a UN passport with Aurora and her guardian nun Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh) across the erstwhile Soviet Union.
Setting it up as a less textured but more action-oriented copy of Children Of Men's premise at least gives it some promise. But when Aurora starts behaving wildly and having visions, the film devolves into a jumble of bad acting, confused (and indeed confusing) editing, and a narrative that maddens you with how mangled and contradictory it is.
The novel's premise quickly devolves into a main thrust whose motivation you cannot comprehend, and a scramble of science fiction hokum, weird reveals, and repetitive gunfights that make no sense. Characters die but return inexplicably, some spiritual mumbo jumbo starts becoming important before being discarded, and all the conflicted messages of the film are delivered deadpan serious as if they were indeed making a brilliant film.
The final product is anything but. Vin is at least an infectious stupid action movie star, but in a film that at least he believes is not stupid, he is a lost lamb grasping at words and sombre stares to seem effective. Predictably, he fails. Much as I can never find anything good to say about him, I can never find any fault with Michelle Yeoh. Moving on, French babe MÃ©lanie as the intriguing leading lady is as effective as snow in a desert.
On hindsight, maybe the film would have been better serviced by a less meddling studio, or a better cast, or even a better crew. But as it stands, I can't really let you go ahead and watch this empty, shallow film. This is a terrible waste of everyone's time, even if you're a die hard Vin Diesel fan. What this movie needs is a laughtrack, and you'll probably have good sitcom on your hands.