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Babylon A.D.
Reviewed by Matthew Bey, © 2008

Format: Movie
By:   Mathieu Kassovitz and Maurice G. Dantec
Genre:   Science Fiction
Review Date:   August 31, 2008
Audience Rating:   PG-13
RevSF Rating:   3/10 (What Is This?)

For those of us with shaved heads, no one has broken down boundaries or undermined stereotypes quite like Vin Diesel. He's an icon of empowerment for us all. Good job, Vin, me and China Mieville thank you.

The bewilderingly titled Babylon A.D. is based on the French sci-fi novel Babylon Babies by Maurice G. Dantec. It follows the exploits of Vin Diesel ("Vin" is the diminutive form of "Vurbo-Charged") as he super-machos his way through a near-future dystopia.

It's become a formula for Vin Diesel movies to pair him with something cute and guileless. It's the same reason that people love to see gorillas cuddling kittens. I predict that Diesel's next movie will have him acting gruff and callous while surrounded by baby lemurs.

Babylon A.D. pairs Diesel with a beautiful French nun from a convent in central Mongolia, and Michelle Yeoh, who is as under-utilized here as she was earlier this summer in Mummy 3.

The beautiful French nun has to be smuggled to New York (Quebec in the novel, but who really wants to go there?) and she might be crazy, or she might have a deadly virus, or she might be pregnant with the Kwisatz Haderach. No one seems to know or really care.

This is one of those movies that gives Hollywood action flicks a reputation for mediocrity. For every ten lines of cliched dialogue there's a genuinely neat image: the chicken coop on the bullet-train, the car suspended from a helicopter.

While it's a roadtrip through a post-apocalyptic Russia, Babylon A.D. makes some sort of sense. But as the movie nears to a close and the loose plot ends whip around like the cargo-netting on a polar-breached nuclear sub, it begins to look more and more like what it is: A psychedelic French sci-fi novel clumsily Americanized into a Vin Diesel vehicle.

Matthew Bey's real name is Murbo-charged Bey.

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