The tag line for Babylon AD’s sci fi cliche fest might have been Life Sucks, and Then You Die. Set sometime in a future where we all know exact location by longitude and latitude-we find our usual Vin Diesel anti-hero living out his grim and nasty life as a mercenary.
He is trapped in Russia, or some part of it, which has that Post Holocaust dog eat dog, well everybody eat dog, look and feel to it. Everyone wears trench coats and carries machine guns and those who have the money ride around in tanks. He gets a new assignment to transport a young woman from Kazakhstan to New York City. There is, of course, more to this young woman than meets the eye.
Throughout the film with gravely voice over provided by Vin Diesel in his I’m-Not-Quite-Sure-Where-He’s-From accent. Vin looks sad and troubled and depressed, with an occasion blank face through in to show his versatility. There are also ample shots who round muscles and countless tattoos. As with all quest stories it is mainly a series of treks across unfriendly lands which show off the hero’s skills at escape.
Babylon Babies, an under-appreciated novel by French punk rocker turned writer Maurice G. Dantec-so said the New York Times. If the book is anything like Babylon AD the film I can see why it is under-appreciated. It’s hard not to think of Minority Report, The Fifth Element, The Terminator, 12 Monkeys, and even Escape From New York while watching this collection of standard sci fi set pieces being moved around. We are given hints that the girl might be some kind of bomb and we even get a small speech from her designer. But none that matters, it’s a movie about Vin Diesel saving the girl and the world be damned. But then, that is pretty much the point, the world is already damned.
The book sounds a lot more interesting. For one thing the Chinese pacifist in the film is a gun happy Israeli in the book. Well, books are seldom used as shooting scripts for films anyway.
Babylon AD was not a great movie, but it wasn’t the worst movie, either. There were a lot of things blowing up and lot of chase scenes of one sort or another. The film never answered any of the questions it raised, but really, I don’t think Babylon AD’s makers gave a damn about any of the questions. This was an excuse to put a gun in Vin Diesel’s hand and have him shoot everything that moves and them make cryptic semi-philosophical comments about it.
Babylon AD looked good, but ultimately the high quality of the special effects couldn’t overcome the low quality of the story.