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Babylon A.D.

Babylon A.D. (2008) Movie Poster
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  •  France / UK / UK  •    •  101m  •    •  Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz.  •  Starring: Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Mélanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Mark Strong, Jérôme Le Banner, Charlotte Rampling, Gérard Depardieu, Joel Kirby, Souleymane Dicko, David Belle, Radek Bruna, Jan Unger.  •  Music by: Atli Örvarsson.
        Veteran-turned-mercenary Toorop takes the high-risk job of escorting a woman from Russia to America. Little does he know that she is host to an organism that a cult wants to harvest in order to produce a genetically modified Messiah.

Trailers:

   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:
 0:42
 
 0:46
 
 1:59
 1:28

Review:

Image from: Babylon A.D. (2008)
Image from: Babylon A.D. (2008)
Image from: Babylon A.D. (2008)
Image from: Babylon A.D. (2008)
Image from: Babylon A.D. (2008)
Image from: Babylon A.D. (2008)
Image from: Babylon A.D. (2008)
Image from: Babylon A.D. (2008)
Image from: Babylon A.D. (2008)
Image from: Babylon A.D. (2008)
I went into this movie not expecting much - other than Pitch BlackChronicles of Riddick, I've been disappointed by Diesel in everything. With Pitch Black, I had high hopes for this guy, but he plays one character across all these films. He never broadens his palette. Babylon A.D.'s trailer made me hopeful for him; what was on the screen disappointed.

What we get is a good concept at the start, a display of lots of great ideas from past science fiction - but they build a house of cards and the ending is the hurricane that just blows it all down.

What I liked: The base idea. Many have claimed "rip-off of Children of Man"; at the same time the slant of the New Messiah storyline is less hopeful, more Mankind-egocentric. This girl, a new Virgin Mary figure, is a manufactured tool of an evil faction from the start. Her pregnancy is not a random miracle as in Children of Man (think "luckGodnatureetc gives humanity a 2nd chance" in that one); Aurora is bio-engineered from before birth to be this Virgin, her pregnancy is engineered by men, for an ultimately selfish reason - to gain total power over humanity through a manufactured Miracle. They didn't take advantage of a random miracle for their ends; they engineered the miracle. In the end, this malevolent action brings unexpected consequences for those that perpetrated it (Aurora's "father" has second thoughts about the use of the girl and becomes an obstacle; there is something special about the twins that was not engineered). The man-made miracle is going to blow up in their faces.

I enjoyed the setting, or at least the idea of the setting as displayed. The year in which the story takes place isn't stated, but the "mid-future" is hinted at through some dates given. The portrayal of how humanity lives in this time is compelling, but extremely confusing. The background of many of the things I saw were not hinted at or told adequately; instead they just make me go "what's the story there?". This confusion really takes away from any chance of cohesion. If there were more bits and pieces of future history leading to what we see in the world and the places Thoorop goes, the movie would have made more sense. "Wow, eastern Europe or Russia or wherever Thoorop has secluded himself really looks like a craphole - he's about to dig on some cat for dinner - what? He has all kinds of technology in this crumbling apartment?" - this hints at some of the poetry that could have been related through the story, but ends up just making a jumble. You just catch the criticism of humanity for putting value of technology over basics, but it never gets fully implemented later. We see over-exposure of media and commerce even in squalor - the pit-fighting club, the expensive displays in full view of the shanty town, New York City more commercialized (think Tokyo, or the city in Blade Runner). Cyberneticsfuturistic cosmetic surgery for those with means, cloned exotic pets - all these ideas from many science fiction universes; none of them is ever fully developed, just mentioned. Thematic buzz-wording.

Some of the subtle humor is well done; when Thoorop hunches over his dinner to protect it from door-debris near the beginning comes to mind.

What I didn't Like: Everything I mentioned above that I liked could probably also fit down here. The entirety of the movie's concept, themes, ideas, execution had a very half-bakedhurried feel.

The acting was pretty difficult at parts, but not awful on the whole. Many of the scenes just didn't work - it seemed like there was to be "tension" building between ThooropAurora, but it was very artificial. Most of the theater laughed out loud at the gettaway scene where Thoorop and Aurora have a "moment" (he looks at her from the floor of the van, she sort of tries to kiss his forehead). Their bathroom scene was exceedingly forced. I felt bad for Michelle Yeoh; she tried very hard and was very good at what she was asked to do. The tense scene in the apartment with Rebeka and Thoorop was one of the better ones for them both ("What..is..WRONG with her??").

The ending - abominable. If we go back to the Children of Man comparison, that movie had it relatively easy. The entire premise was that mankind was doomed as no one was able to procreate. The simple act of giving birth is all that is needed to show the importance of the act in that context. Babylon A.D. doesn't have this out; people are still having kids, that's not the premise of the story or why the birth is important. You have all these neat ideas and concepts building up to some great climax - it is neat that the twins' birth was engineered for a selfish purpose by evil people, but the important part is that there is something about them that was not predicted by their creators - they can protect their mother from missiles, they can help her read minds! And...that's it. They're born; Aurora, new Virgin Mary dies, power-crazed villain lady vanishes, twins go to be raised by protector Thoorop. The end. No information about what these twins will mean for the world, why they will be important to humanity outside their original purpose, why Thoorop must continue to protect them. That they have these powers and intelligence isn't really enough on its own. It's like the story is a balloon being blown up slowly throughout the movie, only to be let go of by the blower right at the end to go ppbbbbbbbbbbblllllllttttttt all around the room. The groans and "what???"s throughout the theater were audible over the music!

If they could add bits of explanation of the universe, fix ThooropAurora tension, make a different, informative ending - this would probably turn out to be decent.


Review by shomizu from the Internet Movie Database.

 

Featurettes:

   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:
 58:52