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Babylon A.D.

dir: Mathieu Kassovitz
[img_assist|nid=59|title=Let me just shoot my agent|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=300]
What the fuck? Sorry, but there’s only one reaction I can have to having watched this alleged movie. But first, allow me to digress for about a thousand words…

I recently spent nearly three months of my life plowing through a book called Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide last year. Since he killed himself, which all the cool artists do, and since many people, book critics and regular humans alike, wanked on rhapsodically about what an amazing writer he was, I started reading it to see for my self.

Imagine my disgust when after suffering through a thousand pages penned more with bongwater than ink and fully more satisfied with itself than it ever deserved to be, I came to the end of the novel only to find that the novel had no ending. No resolution to any of the story it was telling. Nothing to justify the three months of my life where I could have been reading multiple better books during my lunch breaks and train trips to and from work.

Suffice to say, I was pretty fucking angry.

Watching the end of Babylon A.D. hasn’t provoked the same level of white hot fury that made me want to track down David Foster Wallace’s grave in order to dig the fucker up and beat up his corpse, since it only represented a 90 minute commitment on my part. But it does manage to have a non-ending so empty and so breathtakingly unsatisfying that it does render the previous tedious minutes of running time utterly without point or purpose.

Vin Diesel, bless his little cotton socks, can actually act. I know it’s almost impossible for you to believe, because you assume he is as much of a meathead as the roles he’s world renowned for. But he can act. I’m not implying that he’s a great actor, but he can emote, move around as requested, and sort of convince you that he’s playing an actual character rather than endless variations on the same clod he always plays, that being the character Riddick from Pitch Black.

It’s true, I’ve seen him act. It wasn’t in any films many people have seen, because, ask yourself, do you remember Boiler Room, where he played a stockbroker selling junk stocks to greedy marks, or Find Me Guilty (the pinnacle thus far of his acting career), where he plays a genial mobster just trying to keep his friends out of jail?

In Babylon A.D. he’s reduced to doing the same crap he’s usually done, in other words, gravel voiced clipped vowel grunting, meathead action, and little if any acting range between killing people and yelling. Oscar material this ain’t.

But then again, look at what usually gets the Oscar and ask yourself if it would be fun to watch Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett emoting through their make-up for three hours in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

I didn’t think so. Which is why films like Babylon A.D. are supposed to exist. Thoughtless, visceral action flicks designed to just entertain, even if they’re little more than poor Blade Runner rip-offs.

Well, it’s thoughtless all right, there’s nothing visceral, and it certainly did not entertain me.

Toorop (Diesel) is a grizzled, scarred mercenary people smuggler forced by a Gerard Depardieu rendered even uglier with make-up and with someone else dubbing his dialogue, to do some stuff he doesn’t want to do. The time is… some time in the future where most of the world outside of the States looks like a radioactive Kazakhstan.

Toorop is forced to smuggle a nun (Michelle Yeoh) and a young, watery-eyed French girl (Melanie Theirry) from Mongolia to New York, via submarines and snowmobiles. A group of parkour exponents chase them, then some flying drones chase them, some random other people try to kidnap the watery eyed annoying girl who only varies between crying and looking like a lost French waif and screaming her petite lungs out.

They reach New York and then… after some action that makes no sense, or at least less sense that anything else that happens earlier in the flick, the flick ends in a way that had me howling.

Howling I tell you. Howling for my lost youth, for the loss of friends and loved ones through the ages, for the fundamentally unjust nature of existence, and howling for the fact that shit like this still keeps getting made.

It’s important for people to work in order to make money. It’s the way of the world: we’ve all got mouths to feed, baby’s gotta have new toys to play with, plasma screens and Blu-Rays need to be purchased or they get suicidally lonely.

But when you watch something as poorly put together as Babylon A.D., which seems like it was only partially constructed from a tonne of other bad action flicks with a vaguely sc-fi, vaguely post-apocalyptic setting, you just know in your bones that these people are not earning the money they are making. And what’s that known as, children, when people are getting paid far more than the market values and that their skills justify? That’s right, kids, it’s called Communism. And we all know how that turned out.

The fact that the film has no ending only emphasises how it shouldn’t have been made in the first place. The only person I feel sorry for is Michelle Yeoh, who really deserves better than this. The watery French waif I’m sure can get ample work in fragrance commercials and in crappy French flicks being pursued by ugly middle-aged men who want to fuck her and make her cry “le boo hoo”. Vin Diesel will keep getting paid to play the same blockhead, so there’s no problem there. He is starting to look very tired, though. Maybe it’s time for a lie down. There there, Vinny, it’ll be okay.

When the flick was released, the director Mathieu Kassovitz complained loudly and without consideration for ever being employed again by Hollywood about how the flick had been mangled by 20th Century Fox studio executives who interfered at every stage of the production and that they meddled with every scene he tried to film. He also claimed that they cut out around twenty minutes of screen time, rendering everything not his fault, especially the stupid ending.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a studio fucked a film up, but honestly, Kassovitz, you’re not fooling anyone. It’s a crap flick from beginning to end, and whilst I’m sure it’s nice to have “the suits screwed up my artistic vision!” as a fall-back position and to tell chicks in nightclubs when you’re trying to score with them and they recoil because you tell them your last flick was Babylon A.D., you only have yourself to blame taking up such a poisoned chalice.

Terrible, terrible. Not even worth watching drunk. And what a stinker of an ending…

3 times Vin Diesel looks like he’s forgets which generic action flick he’s in during this movie out of 10

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“You’re a disgrace to the profession” – Babylon A.D.

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