Veteran-turned-mercenary Toorop takes the high-risk job of escorting a woman from Russia to America. Little does he know that she is host to an organism that a cult wants to harvest in order to produce a genetically modified Messiah.
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In a near future, the mercenary Toorop is hired by the powerful criminal Gorsky to take a woman named Aurora from a Noelite Convent in Central Asia to New York. In return, he will receive a large amount of money and a clear passport. Toorop joins Aurora and her guardian Sister Rebeka as they cross the dangerous Russian landscape chased by mercenaries that also want Aurora. On their journey, Toorop discovers that Aurora has special abilities and once in New York, they see on the news that the Noelite Convent has just been bombed. When Aurora discloses that she is a virgin and pregnant with twins, Toorop realizes that there is something sinister behind his mission and that he and Sister Rebeka are not part of Gorsky's plans. Written by
When Toorop picks up the girls at the Noelite convent, he stands next to the car door as they get in. In the next shot, as he gets in himself, no one is in the back. See more »
Save the planet. Whenever I've read that bumper sticker I've had to laugh. Save the planet. What for? And for what, ourselves? What about God, can He help us? I don't think so. God gave us what we have to see how we use it. Shit, rats in a cage would have done it better. Life's a bitch and then you die - bumper sticker philosophy. Yeah, right. Sometimes, you get a second chance.
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A tangled, knotted mess that stops caring before you do
Toorop is a "bad-ass" who does things in line with his chosen lifestyle. When he is "approached" by the shadowy but powerful Gorsky to transport a girl from his home in Russia across into New York (where he is wanted on charges) he accepts the job. He collects the angelic Aurora from an ancient monastery along with her guardian, Sister Rebeka and the journey begins. Many are the dangers ahead but soon Toorop realises that the greatest danger may be Aurora herself.
This film got roundly bad reviews and, if you manage to make it through 90 minutes then you will find out for yourself why that was the case it is not something that the film hides from view. With any sort of "full world" sci-fi, the risk is always that your design of that world will make it look ridiculous and also lack any sort of logic as to why things would be that way. There is an element of that here but the bigger problem is much tighter to the core of the film the story itself. The vast majority of the film is a journey where the dangers and the stakes are increasing at each step. We don't learn a lot as we go but for me there was enough to keep me going because I wanted to see where it was going. However as it reaches a point where things should start coming together and the "bigger picture" take over the narrative flow from all the running and shouting that it has been for the majority, well, well then it just falls apart.
Except "fall apart" is not the best description for it because really what happens is that it becomes incredibly tangled. Last week I had the pleasure of using two sets of tweezers and a very bright light to untangle a tiny silver necklace belonging to my partner no part of it stood out as different, it took a lot of work to make sense of the different parts of this massive knotted ball of a chain and it took me ages to translate that knot into a chain again. I mention this because in a way this film is the same by the end because just where you want it to be coming together in a big way, all that happens is it becomes more knotted and more nonsensical. Sadly there is nobody working to make it anything other than this and the closest thing to a "chain" that we end up with is a horrible ending that feels like the makers holding their hands up and saying "Look, I think we all agree that we should probably just bring this whole thing to a close without any fuss and all go our separate ways. Sorry". Some who love this film (and there are some there are always some) will explain it to you and help you see what you missed; this is never an easy conversation because even those defending the film have to work with their tweezers and such to pull sense out of it. And once they do once you and I understand the plot and more or less what was going on, we will still be left with one undeniable fact we still don't care.
Caring is the problem that occurs due to the terrible narrative. At the start I was interested as I was just starting out but, the more it went on, the less I cared. It didn't engage me or give me reasons to keep being interested and by the time the awful ending came round I simply didn't care enough to be angry by how little closure it gives the story. I'm not sure where the fault lies but I suspect it should be evenly spread. The script is poor and the delivery of that script is poor. The cast must have seen something better than I did because there are some solid names in here certainly it wasn't a matter of "oh, Vin is on board? Sign me up then" because that ship has sailed. Diesel himself is his usual solid screen presence. I'm still not a fan but he can hold the attention and is physically imposing. I won't waste your time considering his performance outside of that but suffice to say that with the material as poor as it is, he had little chance anyway. Yeoh deserves better while Thierry seemingly has no idea what her character is, so she settles for just being irritating for most of the time. Rampling, Depardieu, Strong, Wilson and others all show their faces but nobody knows what they are doing and it all feels like everyone was hoping that the action and sci-fi spectacle would cover this.
Visually I did quite like the film even if some of the scenes are unconvincing "near-future" clichés such as the club which is all scaffolding and violence (but yet rammed) or massive explosions for no real reason. Overall though Babylon A.D. is a mess. It has your bangs and your tough swaggering but it is not big or fun enough to just get by on that. Indeed by its own hand it puts a lot of pressure on the plot to drive the film and then delivery at the end neither of which it does. It starts simple and gets more and more tangled and then, as a final scene, you are presented this knotted mess and expected to say "thanks". The only saving grace is, by the time that happens, you will probably care so little about the film that it won't matter.
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