Babylon A.D. (2008)
Main cast: Vin Diesel (Toorop), Mélanie Thierry (Aurora), Charlotte Rampling (the High Priestess), Joel Kirby (Dr Newton), Lambert Wilson (Darquandier), and Michelle Yeoh (Sister Rebeka)
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz


It is amusing how the original publicity posters of this movie in Malaysia initially did not feature Michelle Yeoh in any way. Then someone remembered that the average Malaysian would recognize Michelle Yeoh better than Mélanie Thierry, leading to a flurry of revised publicity posters where Michelle Yeoh's head is hastily pasted over Mélanie Thierry's shoulder. Poor Ms Yeoh looks like Ms Thierry's conjoined Siamese twin.

In this futuristic thriller, we have Toorop, a ex-mercenary in a post-apocalyptic version of Earth, who is lured back into one last mission in exchange for a lot of money and an US citizenship. His mission is to escort a young woman, Aurora, from a monastery in Mongolia to his employer in the USA. Accompanying Aurora is Sister Rebeka who has come to view Aurora as a daughter of her own. The journey takes place across Russia and then across the ocean, and it is one that is fraught with danger. You see, Toorop's employer isn't the only person interested in Aurora.

Poor Babylon A.D., it does not know what it wants to be. Is it an action movie or a futuristic drama? It tries to be both but ends up being neither here nor there. The action scenes are pretty forgettable. There are some really amazing CGI-laden scenes here, such as one involving a mad dash of desperate people to board a submarine in the frigid ice wastes of Russia, and the recreation of the post-apocalyptic setting is a remarkably colorful and realistic one. Unfortunately, the action scenes are so shaky that I can only imagine that they are filmed by a cameraperson who is experiencing epileptic seizures. I can barely make out what is going on, and what I can make out consists of boring and unimaginatively choreographed kicks and punches. This movie has Vin Diesel and Michelle Yeoh... and yet the two action movie veterans are squandered in half-hearted action scenes.

As for the more dramatic aspect of the plot, it has many holes in the plot. Aurora is an irritating character - she is one of those wide-eyed idiots who will walk headlong into danger because she thinks she is Counselor Troi or she wants to save people when she can't even cross the street without needing to be rescued. Clearly, Ms Thierry is hired for this role not because of her acting chops but rather because of how good she looks when she is pouting or making sad baby faces. The dramatic element that hinges on her fate in this movie eludes me completely because I can't care less whether this irritating Barbie doll lives or dies.

Oh, and the rushed sequences leading up to the ending make this movie more of an anticlimatic dud than anything else.

Apart from a memorable scene or two, Babylon A.D. on the whole is a most forgettable movie. It isn't exciting enough to be an action movie and it isn't engaging enough to be a dramatic science-fiction story. The whole movie starts out strong and just fizzles out weakly towards its limp ending, leaving me feeling most disappointed indeed.

Rating: 68


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