Babylon A.D. (2008), or Police! I Was Robbed By A Passing Movie!

17 01 2009
When it rains, it pours. When it sucks, it blows.

When it rains, it pours. When it sucks, it blows.

Hello, everyone! History lesson: have you ever heard of Babylon? A jewel of the Mesopotamian, Babylon was a glimmering, massive city-state that was once one of the most industrious and prosperous cities in the world. Dating back at least all the way to the 24’th century B.C.E., Babylon enjoyed wealth and splendor for centuries and was lauded throughout history as a true marvel. It was said to be a wonder to behold, and we are certainly the poorer for not having many of its ruins left to our modern world. Babylon A.D., however, is a film by Matthieu Kassovitz that nobody has ever lauded for any reason, and we are the poorer for having many of its ruins left to our modern world.

“Stay objective.” That’s my motto, my creed. I try to steer through the hype and the mounds of stereotypes associated with movies to get at the heart of the matter. Some movies considered bombs are actually pretty good (see The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), so I think it would be a shame to not see a good movie based on hype alone. And, believe me, there has been a lot of negative press surrounding this one. Going into it, I was more on the positive side, and in the first 30 minutes the needle on my Enjoy-O-Meter (patent pending) was actually on the rise. But shortly after that point it started a steep descent that eventually landed right on the Mayor’s desk in Shit City. So, believe it or not, but sometimes the hype machine is actually right.

OK, so we have a mercenary in the year 20?? ( They never say what year it is) played by everyone’s favorite big, dumb, hulking badass Vin Diesel. He’s a gun for hire who has a strict set of moral codes. He lives in the war-torn remains of a Russian city, with just barely enough food and shelter to stay alive. But he’s tough as nails, and of course he’s the best around. He’s contacted by a fugly Russian mobster named Gorsky who looks like what happens when someone tries to bake a Mr. Potato Head. He has a job for him involving human trafficking: two women need to be taken from a nearby convent all the way to New York City. Thing are different in the future I guess because it’s really hard to get into America now (people can’t hop a fence or sneak onto a cargo barge in the far-off year 20-blah-blah-blah). He is skeptical at first, but the thought of getting the fuck out of Russia starts to sound enticing, so he accepts. When he arrives at the convent, he is greeted by his cargo; a shy young girl and her sassy guardian nun. The girl is special for a reason that the nun is reticent about, and Vin Diesel is not so dumb that he can’t pick up on it. On the way, they are tailed by a number of different people, all out to get their hands on this mysterious girl and the secret she is carrying, and the rest of the movie follows the three trying to make their way to New York City against all odds.

Oh, and a personal note. Question: which of these four names would you suspect Vin Diesel’s character is called?

A. Tough-As-Nails Mahoney

B. Kick-Ass McGillicuddy

C.Oh-My-God-Vin-Diesel-Just-Stabbed-Me Whittaker

D.Hugo Cornelius Toorop

If you chose A through C, I applaud you, because those names would make sense on an action hero. But Toorop is his name in the movie. Toorop. Toorop! Toorop? That sounds like a goofy Japanese strawberry soda (Ohaiyo Gonzaimasu! Toorop!) or something that needs to be excised from a colon. I refuse to call him that. From now on he will just be called Vin Diesel because that’s the only character he can play anyway.

Now, as I said, this first 30 to 45 minutes of the run-time is actually pretty interesting. The futurescape is decent, really better than decent. They do a pretty good job in capturing the details of a future gone wrong. Matthieu Kassovitz, despite my angry tone, is a good director. I have not seen any of his other films, but judging from his direction, I would be inclined to see another (and considering he pretty much disowned the film and placed the blame on the distributors and the studio, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt).

Everyone has to take a little blame for this, though, because the last 45 to 50 minutes of the movie is so fucking bad. It’s rushed. It’s awful. It’s embarrassing. It’s a goddamned betrayal of my trust in a story to not lead me down a path to no return, a path so far-fetched, ridiculous, and unnecessary that my jaw drops in horror more than five times! I won’t ruin the big “fuck you” surprise, folks: you’ll just have to watch it for yourselves if you’re intrigued enough. I’m telling you, it insulted my intelligence as an adult to have me sit there and take in the garbage they were shoveling out. I felt genuinely pissed off at the end of this movie. Why? Because it was so unavoidable. If you dare to watch this movie, you will find yourself making up far better endings than the one you were given, I guarantee it. There are so many turns everyone as a cast and crew could have taken to make this a better movie, but nobody took them. In the end, they set up a very realistic world for a movie whose source material (the book “Babylon Babies” by Maurice G. Dantec) was quite outlandish, and the two worlds collided for the worse.

Oh, and the music was created by Hans Zimmer and Atli Orvarsson, but it was performed in the movie by RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan and Shavo Odadjian from System of a Down!!! Is that not the strangest combo you’ve ever heard? The pair has a group called Achozen, they make experimental hip-hop, and they have an album slated for this year. But if this soundtrack is any indication, I would hold off on buying the album for a while. A long while. Maybe never. Or at least until the year 20??, when that sound will be popular.

So while Babylon A.D. had such potential in the beginning, like the famed city of its namesake, the climax is so mind-blowing that I don’t have any brain matter left to write any more about this abomination. I give this movie 3 1/2 Japanese strawberry sodas out of ten. Kampai!!!

See you tomorrow for another movie! I don’t know what I will watch yet, so give me some suggestions, damn it!!! Until then!