Two-Disc Special Edition
Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz
Starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Mélanie Thierry, Gérard Depardieu, Charlotte Rampling
Fox Home Entertainment
Released Date: January 6, 2009
Sometimes you see a movie and you’re just not sure what to say about it. You’ve got one thousand and one very solid thoughts about it, but you’re not sure how to put them. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it’s bad. None the less, this is what has happened to me for Babylon A.D., so bear with me as best you can.
Babylon A.D. follows Toorop (Vin Diesel), a mercenary who’s living in an anarchy-ridden Russia after being banished from the U.S. for terrorism. While scraping to get by, Toorop is offered a job from an evil mob boss-type named Gorsky (Gérard Depardieu), who offers him the chance to get a fresh, clean slate back in America and a $500,000 payday. The job: deliver a young girl (Mélanie Thierry) along with her mother-figure (Michelle Yeoh) who’s never seen the outside world from a convent full of those who are called Noelites to New York City.
The first thirty minutes or so aren’t bad; you see the very post-apocalyptic-looking Russia where Toorop lives and you’re intrigued enough and even a little eager to see what’s going on and who’s who. Sadly, once Toorop has taken the job and picked up the girl and started on their journey, things get a little shaky. This starts off at some insane night club where dude’s fight in cages (like most futuristic clubs), and from that scene on, it all just crashes and burns with immense force. You can easily see as the movie moves forward, the director completely loses grasp on what he might have been trying to do. The story doesn’t make much sense; the girl starts off as a very quiet and innocent girl who doesn’t know anything about the world, the next minute she’s screaming and flipping out and apparently psychic in a way, but we’re not sure why. At one point Vin Diesel takes himself a shower, and though there wasn’t any romantic implications at all, this shy, quiet girl is all of the sudden a super model standing there and proceeding to make a move on ol’ Vin. The characters all seemed to be pretty confused at who they were and what they were doing and this was all very obvious while watching the movie. Even the dialogue the characters spoke was really below average and that contributed to the negative output even more. To a distracting level, even.
Although the movie began to spiral at about the thirty-minute mark, I still attempted to stay clear and see where things were going. It was at one specific point where I was lost completely, and I literally still can’t figure out what they were trying to do. At this point, Toorop and the two girls get a boat ride to two waiting snowmobiles, which they’re going to use to ride the rest of the way to the U.S. border. While riding, two ultra-fast robot drones that look like futuristic B2 Bombers come up behind them firing missles. This is when a high speed chase begins. That’s right… a high speed chase between immensely fast flying drones and two snowmobiles with two people on each one. This is where I was lost. Not only that, at one point, Toorop pulls a backflip on his sled for no reason at all. Yes this can be done (there’s a whole special feature showing the X-Games guys they brought in specifically for this) but it really just didn’t need to happen. That backflip turned Babylon A.D. into xXx.
The cherry on the sundae was toward the end. With 10-15 minutes left, to be more specific. This is when you meet the villain of the movie. Throughout the movie, you assume you know who the villain is, but you’re wrong. When you meet them, they’re on screen maybe 2 or 3 minutes, they make a statement leading you to believe that shit is about to go down with Toorop and this villain… and then you never see them again. I kind of think this was some kind of attempt to set up a sequel, but that thought scared me.
After this, plenty of other things take place that had me scratching my head, but I want to keep spoilerage to minimum. One thing to take note of, is though it looks to me like the writing and directing was awful, director Mathieu Kassovitz has been very vocal about his hatred for the movie and for studio 20th Century Fox’s refusal to let him do what he wanted and to make sure the movie was PG-13. I’m not sure what exactly was what here, but it is worth note. I watched the uncut version of the film and was very disappointed in it, so I can’t say who did what, I just know what I saw.
In my reviews I like to note pros and cons of a movie for anyone who might be interested, though here it is tough. I think that if you’re a fan of those really futuristic-y sci-fi movies, you may find yourself liking this one, but you’d have a lot more luck if you were someone who really enjoyed B-movies, too, because this is definitely a cheesy, sci-fi action B-movie with a budget.
DVD Bonus Features
Babylon Babies — This is the thing that leads me to believe that the director was right in his disowning of the movie with the finger of blame pointed at Fox. The feature includes author Maurice G. Dantec, who wrote the book that the movie was based on, Babylon Babies. He explains at length his work and what it all means; basically explaining what the movie should have been, but failed at showing. And this isn’t one thing. There’s many things that didn’t work and I guess this explanation is your best bet at figuring out what was going on.
Artic Escape — A featurette about the stunts used in that certain snowmobile scene. It shows the X-Games pros that came in and how they worked the sled to make the stunts work as needed. Again, something I think should have been basic jumps, if anything… not full on backflips in the middle of a chase.
Fit for the Screen — Another stunt special, this one showing the stunts that dealt with fighting.
Hummers in Flight — Just maybe the most uncomfortable special feature I’ve ever seen. This one is yet again a stunt video and it includes the man behind one of the movies big cas chase scenes. He describes all the work that went into it, who did what, how they handled problems (like putting giant bales of hay on an airport runway to make it look like a farm) and so on. When finished, he gave a heartfelt thank you to Fox and the director for letting him take part in such a fun car chase sequence. Unfortunately, as it turned out, this car chase wasn’t in the movie… it was cut.
Prequel to Babylon A.D.: Genesis or Aurora — this is a weird little animated, comic booky type feature that’s supposedly a little prequel. It’s not very long and doesn’t say much, but that’s what it is.
Deleted Scene: Hummer Sequence — That’s right, the fantastic car chase sequence that got its very own making of feature is here to watch because it wasn’t in the movie. It’s pretty easy to see why this one was just cut in the end.
Still Galleries & Trailers — Images to look at, trailers to watch.
Also, on the main menu instead of the Special Features menu (for some reason), there’s a Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia — Inside Look feature. That one stars Mr. Kennedy from the WWE. Enjoy.