Babylon, A.D. Mathieu Kassovitz

Based on the novel Babylon Babies by Maurice G. Dantec, Babylon, A.D. is an ambitious attempt to bring cyberpunk to the big screen. Though the film manages to create a convincingly dystopian world, including broken down nation states, post-digital age refuse and an emergent post-human society, the schizophrenic decision to combine high-concept sci-fi and low-brow action will leave the audience unsatisfied on both fronts. Toorop (Vin Diesel) works as a mercenary in the crumbling Eastern Europe of the future. When he is given a forged UN Passport and hired to accompany Aurora (Melanie Thierry), a strange girl from a secret monastery, to New York, Toorop readily accepts the job, happy for the chance to return home to U.S. soil, where he has been branded a terrorist. On his journey across the Russian frontier and into the Canadian arctic, Toorop begins to realize that the girl he is protecting is hiding a mysterious secret that may change the human race forever. Though Babylon, A.D. doesn't fully realize its potential as an epic sci-fi film, its style and vision are worthy of a viewing by fans of the genre. The setting is fantastic, with a broken down future reminiscent of Escape from New York or a low-budget Blade Runner. All the more frustrating is that the film verges on being interesting, occasionally breaking through the bad action movie one-liners and awkward acting to become something more than the usual brainless sci-fi that makes it to the big screen. Unfortunately, the film's potential is crushed under the Hollywood necessity to intersperse "kick-ass" action sequences that conflict with the overly ambitious story, most of which is squished into the final 20 minutes of the film and simplified for mainstream audience comprehension. Features include a dull conversation with the author of the original book, some run-of-the-mill "making of" documentaries and a mildly entertaining animated graphic novel prequel to the film's story. Even though Babylon, A.D. ultimately doesn't work, the failed attempt to create something unique is in many ways more satisfying than a conventionally mediocre success. (Fox)