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"Babylon A.D."

Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz.
Written by Mathieu Kassovitz and Joseph Simas.
Starring Vin Diesel, Mélanie Thierry, Michelle Yeoh and Gérard Depardieu.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  9/1/08


There's a reason people want you to skip "Babylon A.D."--it's pretty fucking horrible.  WHY it's horrible was what got me to go to the theater today, because I had read about production troubles with this film months ago, being overbudget and running afoul of problems with weather and what not.  But, maybe the most shocking bit: star Vin Diesel, for the first time I can think of, didn't have the charisma that has highlighted his strange career.

"Babylon A.D." stars Diesel as Toorop, mercenary for hire (and former Marine), who is living somewhere in Eastern Europe waiting for his next job when he is "offered" a chance to smuggle a 17-year-old convent stowaway (Mélanie Thierry) and her caretaker (Michelle Yeoh) from the convent to New York City for a delivery.  This adventure is naturally not going to be easy, thanks to countless people interested in seeing this threesome dead, and a religious sect led by a crazy woman (Charlotte Rampling) who needs the girl because of her strange powers.

Total, complete clusterfuck.  It starts with Diesel, who can normally be counted on for a laugh here or there, or the smile, or the now-vintage Diesel line delivery.  (Just watching "xXx" on FX the other day for five minutes made me laugh, watching Diesel talk to bad guys...comedy.)  I don't know why he isn't good in this movie, but it's official...he isn't good in this movie.  The supporting cast is also atrocious; the girl is bad, Frenchie Gerard Depardieu is awful, the guy who played the Merovingian from "The Matrix" sequels is bad, and Yeoh looks tired and bored trying to occasionally whoop ass during the action scenes of this film.

And, the action scenes suck too.  I howled particularly loudly during an extended snowmobile chase scene, where two high-powered flying drones with missiles and machine guns couldn't even scratch two fucking snowmobiles.  Do I look that stupid?  The CG and special effects are also awful.  The ending of this film will baffle you in ways you didn't previously believe possible, and that put a nice bow on a total filmmaking experience.  Wow, what a fucking clusterfuck.

Rating:  Hard Vice


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09