It has been a long time since I have felt as indifferent about a film as I did about Babylon A.D.
Leading up to my viewing at a midnight show, I was a little excited. After all, it was Vin Diesel’s return to the big screen as an action star. No more dirty diapers. No more pacifiers. No more independent comedies. He’s back doing what he does best… kick ass on the big screen.
But at the same time, I just couldn’t get too excited for his return if it meant starring in a film that has flown into theaters completely under the radar.
The movie takes place in the not-so-distant future when economies have collapsed and the world is falling into chaos. Diesel plays a mercenary smuggler named Toorop who is given a special assignment: to smuggle a young woman into America. However, once he takes the job and begins to bond with the “package” and her guardian (Michelle Yeoh), all of them become targets.
Each year, I attend a science fiction movie marathon, and while they play classic movies and big releases, they always sneak in a few films for the sci-fi junkie. These are movies that flop in a wide release but can be found on video shelves and broadcast cable for years to come. They aren’t great films, but they are steeped in the genre and enjoyable as escapism. Babylon A.D. reminds me of these types of films that are shown in the wee hours of the morning at my beloved movie marathons.
I don’t know if Vin Diesel’s star power (which has waned since he took a hiatus from big action flicks) is enough to bring this movie to the mainstream. It has grand themes – like social disruption and global economic collapse – but they aren’t fully explored. Throughout the movie, the story tends to channel better science fiction, like Blade Runner and Children of Men. But when all is said and done, it’s just an excuse for some nice action scenes and nothing more.
Rumor has it that the director was miffed at close to a half hour of edits pulled from the film, and that probably explains the abrupt story presentation and overly predictable twists. But then again, I wasn’t looking for depth and originality in the film.
As a notch in Vin Diesel’s action film belt, it serves its purpose. But come Halloween, I doubt anyone is even going to remember this film existed.
THE UPSIDE: Vin Diesel is back as a badass.
THE DOWNSIDE: Left me utterly indifferent.
ON THE SIDE: Even after being awake for eighteen hours over a busy work day, I didn’t fall asleep in this movie.