I popped along to see the new Vin Diesel film this week – Babylon A.D., a futuristic thriller. I was expecting a bit of decent crap; and instead was blown away by it. It’s an astonishing piece of film-making, with a future world that’s beautifully realised, and a fast-moving and utterly accomplished cinematic style that’s on a par with Paul Greengrass’s direction of the last Bourne movie. And there’s a scene featuring snowmobiles racing through snow that has to be one of the best action sequences ever.
I was reminded of Kill Bill, with its amazing use of colour, and its balletic swordfight in the snow, and its effortlessly kinetic flair.
The director of Babylon A.D., Mathieu Kassovitz, uses every directorial trick in the book – jerky cameras, fast moving cameras, saturated film stock, rapid-cutting and blazing white light to render a normal image eerie (Battlestar Galactica and Minority Report use this white light trick brilliantly too.) It’s action film-making that has a right to be considered poetry in motion.
The French Kassovitz also directed the acclaimed movie La Haine, and the more recent Gothika. He gets great performance out of Vin Diesel; and turns a workaday SF thriller into a jolt of pure adrenalin.
I have say, though, that the script and the story of Babylon A.D. don’t exactly inspire. There’s a great set up – our hero has to take The Girl from Russia to America. But we never really know why until quite late in the day a bloke turns up, tells us all the plot in a few long speeches, and then gets popped. Soon after the movie ends, just as the story was getting started. There’s also an illogicality, concerning what the girl does to help our hero; though I can’t be more specific without spoiling. See if you agree with me.
So all in all, don’t go to this film if you want to be made to think; just go with eyes open, and watch, and watch, and watch.
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