I have been a Vin Diesel fan since his rise to fame in Pitch Black. This 41-year old actor has made my heart palpitate more times than any other man, first awing me with his rippling muscles. Then, it was his innate ability to be tough and strong, but gentle when it comes to women, most of whom love it when a man shows his soft side.
When he took a turn as a bodyguard in The Pacifier, I lapped it up that he could convincingly portray such a caring guy. Then, he disappeared and his Pacifier alter ego became stale.
There are no soft sides in Babylon. From the beginning, the movie is in your face and doesn’t let up. The setting is Russia, about 30 years from now. Diesel’s character, Toorop, is asked to escort Aurora (played by Melanie Thierry) from Russia to America.
Because Russia and the U.S. appear to have had some sort of falling out (I’m guessing, because it wasn’t explained in the film), Toorop, Aurora, and Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh) have to put themselves in a lot of danger to get there.
Said danger makes for good action sequences and nail-biting good times.
What’s so interesting about the story written by Eric Besnard –– based on the novel by Maurice Dantec –– is that the characters all believe in God, but have these contradictions: Toorop, a mercenary, prays before eating. Sister Rebeka is a butt-kicking nun. And Aurora, who was raised in a convent by Sister Rebeka, almost throws herself at Toorop; then again, who could blame her.
The story and action are great. Screenwriters Mathieu Kassovitz and Joseph Simas did a fine job adapting this story for the screen.
I’m not sure, however, if it’s their fault or the film editor’s fault that the ending is hokey. Also, the film has a few unexplained events having to do with a seeming immaculate conception, unexplained loot and a mother’s ultimate sacrifice.
I have many more questions –– and concerns. Like how the ending of this movie didn’t flow well with the rest of the film. Imagine a high-octane drive down a deserted road and your car runs out of gas.
Director Kassovitz obviously didn’t see the need to neatly tie up loose ends in this film. Probably a time issue (he didn’t want the film to be too long), but he hurt the movie like a gunshot to the abdomen.
Diesel’s transformation from tough guy to dramatic, caring man in a matter of seconds was nervous and totally fake. A theater-trained actor, Diesel’s been dramatic in action movies, and his performance was hands down much better than what he regurgitated in this film. I loathed the ending. The only saving grace in the ending is seeing Diesel in plain clothes, looking sexy.
Yeoh and Thierry (a newcomer) weren’t half bad; they weren’t half good, either. French actor Gerard Depardieu plays Gorsky, a Russian somebody in bad make-up. And, veteran international actress Charlotte Rampling plays the High Priestess who wants to keep Aurora’s children for her cult’s gain, and alternates between looking like her face is going to melt off and rocking really ugly white suits.
Babylon A.D., while falling victim to the cutting-room floor, is an interesting look at the future in the vein of Children of Men, and a good action movie. It shows a thriving America, which is a plus in my book with today’s economy. Also, it’s got a shower scene with Diesel, bare chest and all.