Matthieu Kassovitz is an unhappy Frenchman. He’s busy promoting his new film, Babylon A.D., which opens this week. The futuristic action film stars Vin Diesel as a mercenary tasked with escorting a young woman from Russia to the U.S. while protecting her from evil cultists intent on stealing her essence. (Pretty much an average Tuesday for me.) It’s Kassovitz’ second Hollywood film after Halle Berry’s Gothika, and at an estimated $60 million it’s his biggest film to date. Oh, and according to Kassovitz it’s also “pure violence and stupidity.”
Kassovitz spoke with AMC TV about the film, 20th Century Fox, and how there is no word in the French language for ‘discretion.’ “I’m very unhappy with the film,” the disgruntled director says. “I never had a chance to do one scene the way it was written or the way I wanted it to be. The script wasn’t respected. Bad producers, bad partners, it was a terrible experience.” He says Fox reps swarmed on the production after weather related setbacks and other budgetary concerns began to appear during production. “Fox was sending lawyers who were only looking at all the commas and the dots,” he says. “They made everything difficult from A to Z.” Kassovitz’s breaking point was when the suits commandeered the editing room and pared the film down to a “confusing 93 minutes” from his original 108 minute cut. Star Vin Diesel chimed in on this count, asking “Am I even in the movie any more, or am I on the cutting room floor?”
Kassovitz continued, “The movie is supposed to teach us that the education of our children will mean the future of our planet. All the action scenes had a goal: They were supposed to be driven by either a metaphysical point of view or experience for the characters… instead parts of the movie are like a bad episode of 24.” Not exactly glowing praise for his own work, but I’ve watched every season of 24, and even a bad episode (of which there have been many) is still better than most of what Hollywood churns out to theaters. After remembering he was there to promote the film and not take a big fat dump on it, Kassovitz added “I like the energy of it and I got some scenes I’m happy with,” he said right before dropping his pants and squeezing out some more criticisms. “But I know what I had — I had something much better in my hands but I just wasn’t allowed to work… I don’t see how people who went through all these amazing blockbusters like The Dark Knight and Iron Man this summer will take it.”
Kassovitz also directed the stunning La Haine as well as the gory French serial killer thriller Crimson Rivers, and he’s acted in films as diverse as Munich, Birthday Girl, and the beautiful and perfect Amelie.