Thursday, January 08, 2009

Babylon A.D.

Whatever happened to Vin Diesel? Loved him in Pitch Black, he stole the movie in 2 Fast, 2 Furious, but became a victim of his own hype in XXX. Never mind The Chronicles of Riddick: I couldn't even begin to tell you what that movie was about.

Diesel stars in Babylon A.D., which is about....hmmm. Well, you lost me again. This movie is a lot like Children of Men, only without the intelligence, without the sense.

I've always liked Diesel's anti-hero shtick, and he does it very well here. He's the tired mercenary with a heart of gold hidden somewhere under a world-weary exterior. He really wants to leave violent and poor Russia and return home to New York. He's suddenly given the chance to do so by a prosthetic-laden Gerard Depardieu (I know, I know: you're thinking, this is the one guy who doesn't need a fake nose). Diesel's mission is to deliver a strangely gifted girl and her guardian nun from a Mongolian monastery to New York City.

Just the presence of Michelle Yeoh gives this movie some instant class and weight. She plays the nun who may embrace peace but who isn't weak, especially when the nun is a martial arts expert. And it's sheer delicious delight to see Charlotte Rampling toward the end of the movie as the leader of a weird religious group. When Rampling yells at her group for their incompetency, or slaps her chauffeur because he delivered some bad news, well, it's Cruella deVille time all over again.

I did enjoy the rather lengthy sequence of the three working together to escape, it seems, the whole world of mercenaries as they're trying to get to their destination. You have the feeling, however, that entire scenes were lost in the cutting, as there's an abruptness to it, especially at the end. And, at the end, you do expect a payoff that would tell us what the girl is all about, and what this movie, for that matter, is all about.

I mean, we could expect that, but we'd be wrong. There's a lot of build-up to a lot of nothing. And, at the end of this film, we become world-weary, just like Vin Diesel. We're still hoping for him to fulfill his promise.

Thumb's down.



At 7:47 PM, Blogger Linda said...

Um Al says: I first became aware of Vin Diesel in The Boiler Room. He was the best thing in an outstanding movie. I then remembered that I had seen him in Saving Private Ryan, and had great hopes for him. However, he decided to take the road more traveled and make action movies that, in my opinion, appeal to the lowest common denominator. My hopes were revived when he made that terrific movie that no one saw (with the even more terrific performance), Find Me Guilty, but, alas, he seems to be back on the path that will never cross mine. Sorry, Vin. Start making movies for grown-ups again, and I'll be the first one in line.


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