Oh, I’m sure everyone is going to say, “Told ya so, Neil!”, when I say that this movie was stinky. Not that I didn’t have my doubts as it was, it’s just that I heard there were a lot of problems between the director and the production company. Apparently after going over budget and a few weeks over deadline, the production company took control of the film away from director Mathieu Kassovitz (“Gothika”). So I thought perhaps a lot of the problems might have come from suits trying to do the job of a creative individual. Unfortunately, that was only part of the problems.
Vin Diesel is a veteran-turned-mercenary that takes a high-risk job of transporting this woman from Russia to New York City. What he doesn’t know is that this woman is host to an organism that a weird cult wants to harvest in order to bring about a new Messiah.
Sounds relatively straight-forward, right? Too bad it doesn’t really translate that way on screen. Lots of mumbo-jumbo about “Neolites” or something that made me think too much of Scientology and all their nonsense. Don’t even get me started on that crap or this will quickly turn into a rant that ends with me having to go into the witness protection program.
Strangely, the acting was not one of my concerns here. Everyone seemed fine. Well, except for Charlotte Rampling (!) who seemed rather over the top. Another fine actress slumming, I guess. Gerard Depardieu is almost unrecognizable as Gorsky, the sleaze with the alarmingly large schnoz that hires Thoorop, Vin Diesel’s character. And, of course, Vin Diesel, playing this role much like he plays every role: with a mouth full of gravel.
Ok, confession time. I don’t hate Vin Deisel. Conversely, I’m also not astounded by his immense range and exemplary theatrical talent. I think he’s a good action star. He’s like a Keanu Reeves. Ok, I only really like “Pitch Black” and the “Chronicles of Riddick”. That’s it. But any problems here with “Babylon A.D.” are not Vin’s burden to bear. He did what he could, no matter how limited his resources. Quite frankly, I know Vin is a much smarter guy than anyone gives him credit for, or most of his roles would imply. I really just want another Riddick movie.
A lot of what the studio did after they took it from Kassovitz seemed obvious. Early on, Thoorop is all business and rude and wants nothing to do with any kind of conversation with the two women traveling with him. Then suddenly in the next scene, they’re all telling each other’s life story. Five minutes later, they’re laughing together. What? It’s like I fell asleep during the movie and woke up 30 minutes later. Wait…did I? No, no, I’m pretty sure I didn’t doze off. And this sort of thing happened often. It felt like the pacing was off and they jumped forward a lot. There were clearly vast feet of film lying on the cutting room floor.
Then some moments were just too corny to keep a straight face. I think there was only one intentional laugh in the whole film. Then there were about three unintentional ones. Yeah, that makes for a really tedious, humorless movie. I’d like to say the action sequences were at least notable, but they weren’t. It was all less than average. I might rent a director’s cut of this if one ever gets released, just to see how much was the studio’s fault and how much was bad to begin with. We may never really know, and I won’t lose any sleep over it. I’ll just watch the Riddick movies again.
—Neil, your average movie goer that now knows the summer movie season is truly over.