Babylon A.D.

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 January, 2009, 12:00am

Babylon A.D.

Vin Diesel, Melanie Thierry, Michelle Yeoh, Lambert Wilson

Director: Mattieu Kassovitz

The problem with casting Vin Diesel as your lead is that the man is a one-trick pony. He has to play characters who don't give a damn - because his emotional range makes cardboard seem animated in comparison.

Once he's called on to do more than flex and play it cool, the man is found wanting. And so it proves again here.

Diesel plays a fugitive who is tasked with protecting a young girl (Melanie Thierry) and a nun (Michelle Yeoh, below left) who must somehow make it to New York from somewhere in Russia. The deal for Diesel's character is he can return home to his beloved US, and the nun and girl get the services of a piece of gun-toting beefcake to keep the baddies at bay.

That Diesel never once convinces he actually cares what is going on around him is just one of the film's faults.

The others include a convoluted plot involving artificial intelligence being injected into children, a strange sect, and the sight of Gerard Depardieu done up with a fake nose even larger and more comical than the one God gifted him. You cannot take your eyes off it.

Things are not helped by the knowledge that director Mattieu Kassovitz went public about studio interference, saying the source material - Maurice Dantec's novel Babylon Babes - had been butchered. And what we are left with is a visually stunning mess. Nothing ends up making much sense at all.

And the majestic Yeoh continues to be brutally underused when playing roles outside Asia.

Would someone in Hollywood pass the lady a decent script. Please. Extras: Interview with Dantec, Arctic Escape, Fit for the Screen, Hummers in Flight featurettes, deleted scenes, video comic prequel, still gallery, trailers.