[Screen It]

(2008) (Vin Diesel, Melanie Thierry) (PG-13)

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Action: A mercenary tries to transport a nun and the young woman in her care to America, quickly learning that something she's carrying is of big interest to various parties.
It's the near future and Toorop (VIN DIESEL) is former soldier turned mercenary who will do most anything for pay if the price is right. His reputation is what's caused his former boss, Gorsky (GERARD DEPARDIEU), to hire him to transport a young woman, Aurora (MELANIE THIERRY), and the nun caring for her, Sister Rebecca (MICHELLE YEOH), from Eastern Europe to America.

Aurora doesn't seem to be particularly interesting, but when various forces working for the likes of scientist Darquandier (LAMBERT WILSON) and Neolite High Priestess (CHARLOTTE RAMPLING) separately via for control of the young woman, Toorop realizes there's more to her than meets the eye.

Enlisting the aide of his associate, Finn (MARK STRONG), to help them cross various borders, the mercenary then does what he can to deliver the two women, all while batting various people with a vested interest in what Aurora's carrying.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Our new reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

Based on Maurice G. Dantec's "Babylon Babies," and helmed by actor-turned-director Mathieu Kassovitz who co-wrote the screenplay with Eric Besnard, this is a studio-trimmed version of the original pic released earlier this year in France. Even without the cuts, I can't imagine the film -- that feels a bit too much like "Children of Men" sans the stellar filmmaking, acting and social message -- could have been significantly better.

Diesel, who once showed a lot of promise and onscreen charisma (see "Saving Private Ryan" and "Boiler Room"), is just going through the motions here, and Kassovitz (whose previous best known effort was "Gothika") and/or the hatchet-job folks don't give us any reason to care.

Michelle Yeoh is okay and Melanie Thierry makes something of an impression (even if her character does not), but the action -- for the most part -- is squandered by too many edits and close-ups. While marginally watchable in the early goings, the pic becomes increasingly goofy, preposterous and, worst of all, downright boring as it unfolds and unravels. "Babylon A.D." rates as a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed August 29, 2008 / Posted August 29, 2008

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