2.5 stars (out of 4)
Hey, this one was a pleasant surprise. I went in knowing little about it – some called it a poor man’s Children of Men.
Quick summary: in your garden-variety post-Apocalypse world of dung, a mercenary (Vin Diesel) agrees to escort a teenage girl from a Russian monastery to New York. As it turns out – try not to fall out of your chair – various parties seek to prevent this from occurring. Moreover – again, I know this stretches the imagination – though he claims to care only about his next paycheck, the merc turns out to have a heart.
Twenty minutes into the movie, I realized why I was enjoying it so much: everything about it was just a tad better than my expectations (except Mathieu Kassovitz’s direction, which was a lot better). The early just-like-every-post-Apocalypse-movie-since-Mad Max scenes were genuinely creepy; the action and effects looked more expensive than they were; the characters’ motivations and relationships were more complex than I thought; and the backstory unfolded more organically than I anticipated.
Babylon A.D. has plenty of pickable nits. In particular, the bad guy or guys (no spoilers here!) come into focus far too late; the first two-thirds of the flick don’t properly set up the final third. But still, low expectations make for pleasant surprises.