Make No Mistakes; This 2008 Vin Diesel Movie is Definitely Cyberpunk A.F.
For some gatekeepers, Babylon A.D. probably won’t pass the cyberpunk smell-test due a sparsity of “high-tech”; however, its generous helping of “low-life” more than makes up for it (not to mention its interesting dystopian world). In our estimation, Babylon A.D. merits a cyberpunk deep dive.
Michelle Yeoh Makes Us Watch!
I had seen Babylon A.D. as an option to watch on Netflix. But a quick perusal of its reviews online scared me away. The cover photo was also B-movie bland, and there were no scenes to get me excited about the film. Even after watching the trailer, I was still lukewarm about the prospect.
Damn The Red Flags! Let’s Watch a Cyberpunk Movie!
With my expectations already set abysmally low, Babylon A.D. was surprising in good way. The movie jumps right in without needless exposition that plagues so many other movies (I’m looking at you, Ready Player One). The viewer is able to see a dystopian world somewhere in eastern Europe where everything is run-down, food is extremely scarce and guns are as commonplace as cigarette butts on the streets.
Vin Diesel and Action Go Together like Cyberpunks and Ramen
Babylon A.D. feels like an action flick set in a dystopian future. Vin Diesel is great at being the emotionally-hardened killing machine that the likes of Bruce Willis and Jason Statham have similarly made successful in their straightforward action flicks. There are shootouts, explosions, hand-to-hand combat and even random military elements like combat gear and a giant military helicopter that is retrofitted for transportation purposes. The pacing is solid ,except for some moments that dragged I was frequently surprised by sudden events happening throughout the film. One thing is clear. Vin Diesel’s character is straight up out of fucks to give.
Diesel plays mercenary Toorop who is hired by a Russian mobster, played by Gerard Depardieu (The Man in the Iron Mask) to bring a young woman named Aurora (Melanie Thierry) from Europe to New York City. Once given a UN passport, he must bring Aurora and her guardian Sister Rebeka (Yeoh) from their convent in Kyrgyztan to New York by traveling through Russia to Vladivostok and across the Pacific to Alaska.
The trio fights, bribes and smuggles their way toward their destination.The viewers slowly learn more about Aurora’s mysterious past. Through the difficult journey they become somewhat of a family, until the movie comes to a head about an hour in once they arrive in New York.
Then something happens which made little sense to me, and which honestly lost me for the end of the movie. Up until that point, I had been enjoying Babylon A.D. immensely. I guess you just have to bear with them until their conclusion, which unfortunately lost the emotional gravitas it was probably striving for.
However, there was one small consolation prize: Lambert Wilson.
Holy Crap! It’s Lambert Wilson! Holy Crap!
That’s right, folks! Lambert Wilson is in this movie too! Unfortunately he has only a small role, but seeing him play yet another smug man of power with his sublime French accent made me like this movie even more. Not only that, but I soon remembered just how much I loved his performance as The Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. He’s a show stopper. All his scenes in previous Matrix films tend to stand out as much as the action does, and that is saying something. In Babylon A.D., it’s just as exciting to watch.
“You see, there is only one constant. One Universal. And that is…that I LOVE French wine.”
Overall, I give Babylon A.D. a rating of 7.5 out of 10. You should definitely see this movie, especially wherever you can get it. With all the streaming platforms, who knows which one that is by the time you read this. It would have been an 8 if the movie hadn’t gotten in the way of itself during the last 30 minutes. It was so close to being great! However, it also would have been worse if not for the performances of Yeoh, Wilson and Diesel. It certainly doesn’t warrant the 6% on Rotten Tomatoes (seriously??). Nonetheless, with good acting from most of the actors, fun action, decent pacing, and an interesting idea (for the most part), Babylon A.D. is worth a viewing for any proper fan of cyberpunk and dystopia fiction.