Vin Diesel’s career as an action star officially ran out of gas in “Babylon AD,” a stilted post-apocalyptic thriller that in the end implodes on itself and leaves everyone in the theater confused.
In a far-flung future (no one tells you exactly when) in which people eat dogs, buy weapons at open air gun markets and mobsters run Eastern Europe with their own tanks, Diesel’s idealistic mercenary Toorop (we know he’s idealistic because someone says so, not from Diesel’s far-from-finely honed acting chops) is enlisted to take a package to the United States.
What he doesn’t know is that this package is the beautiful young nun (yes nun) Aurora (Melanie Thierry) with special gifts that pop up every time they’re needed.
The girl is removed from a very secluded convent somewhere in Mongolia and guided by a surrogate mother superior played by Martial Arts master Michelle Yeoh in an attempt to give some “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” grace to Diesel’s grace-less punch, head-butt shoot approach to international diplomacy.
The three of them begin a globe-trotting trek from Eastern Europe to the United States, all the while being chased by some enigmatic military force who wants the girl for a reason that eludes everyone.
Through it all we’re given glimpses of the harsh world Earth has become, but no one explains why. It could have something to do with Coca-Cola, which, according to the movie, will have their own airline company in the future.
Our travelers arrive in New York to find that it’s more or less unscathed as the rest of the world slowly descends into chaos, although Harlem looks a lot like downtown Tokyo.
Of course, no delivery Vin Diesel is involved in is ever easy.
Without any preamble, there are now two warring factions eager for Aurora, whose secrets, after much gunplay and bloodshed, are revealed and are so laughably implausible that someone has to sit Vin Diesel down and slowly explain it to him.
He got most of it, but not all of it. The audience – myself included – got some of it, but by then we couldn’t care less.
Personally, I was still stuck on why Coca-Cola would own an airline company.
Staring Vin Diesel and Michelle Yeoh. Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. Running time: 90 minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some sexuality.
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