Alas Babylon

With Babylon A.D., Vin Diesel’s career careens precariously toward what we call the Rutger Hauer Event Horizon: that point of no return beyond which a star only makes straight-to-DVD guilty pleasures. There’s a lucrative career there, to be sure, and hey, it beats auditions while you hold down the day job. But Diesel has fallen a long way since his Pitch Black glory days, and that’s a real shame.

Particularly because Babylon could have amounted to a damn sight more than it did. Someone clearly sank some money into the thing, and the world it depicts has a cool dystopian feel to it (there’s some truly gorgeous scenery at times). It opens well, too: in a hellhole that looks it might be round twelve of some Chechnyan war.  And they probably should have kept the whole thing there, rather than turning the movie into the Children of Men-meets-Cyborg roadtrip that it rapidly becomes.  By the time the narrative reaches America, the plot has descended into near-total incoherence, and by the time the movie ends, the audience’s reaction was one of near-total derision.  (They were vocal about it too.)

Leaving us to wrestle with the question of Just Went Wrong.  The script feels like it was done by a committee, so that’s one thing.  And the movie ran over-budget, which seems to have gotten the studio involved perhaps earlier than it should have.  Director Mathieu Kassowitz has claimed that the studio bosses cut 20 minutes of his vision, and maybe that was the problem, but I didn’t see anything on the screen to convince me that there were uncut gems lying around in the vault.  I’m also not inclined to give the guy who unleashed Gothika upon us the benefit of the doubt.

And I have to wonder why Vin Diesel’s agent did.

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11 Responses to “Alas Babylon”

  1. Captain Mac Says:

    For me, Hauer’s ‘attack ships on fire, C-Beams glitter in the dark’ speech in Blade Runner means he can appear in anything he wants.

    Still, the Rutger Hauer Event Horizon – brilliant!

    As for Vin, I think Pitch Black was lightning in a bottle. Since then he has paid the price for trying to broaden his range – stoic hero in solid, flashy action films = fine. Light hearted comedy actor = disaster and declining career.

    He should try and get a few smaller supporting roles in good films to keep his profile up, they try to get back in the big leagues. And fire his agent – The Pacifier anyone?

  2. meesh Says:

    i took the advice of this williams guy and went to see vin’s flick.

    i have to say that i was sort of taken aback by the beginning thinking it MIGHT actually be an okay film but well, it wasn’t.

    i started laughing a lot toward the end and at the end i was laughing probably too hard…..but so was everyone else.

    i wish vin would do other movies with actual goodness.

    he’s not the greatest actor in the world but the movie makes him look like an idiot.

    which i know he isn’t but then again, i don’t know the guy.

    but it was entertaining enough and i love laughing…..and the whole audience laughed at the end……i like that in a movie where the whole crowd is as amused as me!

    but i am glad i went. always good to see some future shit in a movie that i think could be not so far off from where we might be headed in reality land.

  3. paulB Says:

    from what i gather an hour was cut from the film and the director didnt enjoy making it [see link]

    although the studio is saying different

    but i agree that Vin needs to find another agent and maybe concentrate on some smaller indie films and get back to his roots

  4. Brian Says:

    RT rates it 05%…Ouch!

    Saw DK on Imax this evening. Awesome!

  5. David Williams Says:

    @Captain Mac: agreed. Hauer is a god because of that movie and those lines, and always will be. It’s just too bad his career went so far south subsequently to that. . . .

    then again, I always had a weak spot for Split Second.

  6. David Williams Says:

    @Brian– nice one, dude.

  7. paulB Says:

    I remember watching a Hauer film called Blind Fury, it was great when I was a kid but I caught it again the other day, phew, what a stinker.

    I guess after Blade and Hitcher he kinda hit the straight-to market and went down hill.

    Reminds me of Dolph Lundgren, I still cant bring myself to watch Jonny Mnemonic again.

  8. David Williams Says:

    @Paul: well, for me Dolph falls into the guilty pleasure category. I mean, Red Scorpion was awesome. Even though it sucked.

  9. NewsCat Says:

    I don’t know. Vin Diesel was rather good in The Boiler Room. But he probably get offered bigger money to do silly comedies and big budget action flicks. He’d rather be Arnold Schwarzenegger than an “actor.”

    Dwight “The Rock” Johnson seems like his counterpoint who is trying to build up goodwill doing small parts (like Get Smart) so he can be an “actor” and not a joke.

  10. David Williams Says:

    I wish he’d get the green light to do “Hannibal the Conqueror”. Apparently he was gonna do it in Phoenician and Latin, which would have been cool as ##. I can’t believe it’ll ever go through now.

  11. Captain Mac Says:

    Anyone remember that Dolph film where he was a cop chasing an alien who was harvesting endorphins from people’s brains, because to him it was a drug? Called Dark Angel I think. Not as bad as it sounds!