Babylon A.D. (Rated PG-13) One Star

    When Babylon A.D. (90 minutes) was first advertised, it looked good. It looked liked a thinking person’s movie, a dystopian take on a near future with a Russian aesthetic and some pretty, pretty lead actors. Then, rumors of conflict between director Mathieu Kassovitz and Fox Studios developed, and everyone started busting on the film before it was even released. Additionally, a substantial amount of footage is missing from the U.S. cut against the director’s wishes. The Internet Movie Database reports a loss of more than 70 minutes, but I couldn’t verify that amount. What I can verify is at least 15 minutes missing from the U.S. studio release, enough to completely change the character of a film. Think that 15 minutes can’t change a movie? Let me direct your attention to the theatrical versus the director’s cut of The Descent.   
    {mosimage}Kassovitz’s wrote, directed, and starred in 1995’s controversial La Haine (The Hate), and starred as Amelie’s love interest in the French Amelie (2001). His stateside work includes the notoriously stinky Gothika and a brief appearance in The Fifth Element. This movie might have been his big break into quality science fiction. Instead, the film American audiences are seeing is chopped up beyond all hope of quality, and a more sophisticated film is lost on the cutting room floor, sacrificed to the PG rating gods.
    The film centers on a U.S. military veteran turned mercenary, Toorop (Vin Diesel). He is recruited by a wealthy man named Gorsky (played primarily by Gerard Depardieu’s nose) to escort a sweet young thing from a monastery in Kazakhstan to New York. While escorting Aurora (Melanie Thierry) and her guardian (Michelle Yeoh, who used to make good movies), he discovers that Aurora is capable of some pretty odd intuitive leaps, among other unusual traits. They make their way across a heavily guarded border despite the menace and confusion surrounding them. Eventually, Aurora’s fate is balanced between science and religion, with only Toorop privy to the secret that can rescue her. About here is where I usually start to worry about giving away the ending, but this version really doesn’t have an ending. Things start blowing up, and we see about five minutes of confusingly edited scenes, which quickly lead into the credits. But sincerely, I have only the vaguest conception of the finale. It was abrupt and left many questions unanswered.
    I have nothing personally against Vin Diesel, The Pacifier notwithstanding. I enjoyed him in Pitch Black, and I am even eager to see his take on the famous Carthaginian general Hannibal. Here however, he seems to sleepwalk though his lines. All the major players are poorly used and move through the film with apology in their eyes. The cinematography is atrocious, the fight choreography childish and uninspired. 
There are far too many holes in the plot. For example, at one point the merry crew tries to evade motion sensing robots. Our hero offers to draw them off, but his companions continue to move…why would the robots chase the hero but not the other moving targets? That’s just bad storytelling.
    Honestly, there is nothing like a good sci-fi action movie. Unfortunately, this truly is nothing like a good action movie…instead it is just awful and dumb.  

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