A Vin fin de siè­cle

BABY­LON AD Di­rected by Mathieu Kasso­vitz. Star­ring Vin Diesel, Mélanie Thierry, Michelle Yeoh, Mark Strong, Gérard Depar­dieu, Char­lotte Ram­pling

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

12A cert, gen release, 90 min YOU KNOW a film is in trou­ble when, half­way through, the char­ac­ters sit down and of­fer each other (and, there­fore, us) a help­ful sum­mary of the im­pen­e­tra­ble plot. Some­time af­ter a pre­dictably gruff Vin Diesel reaches New York of the fu­ture – ba­si­cally Blade Run­ner’s LA with poorer ef­fects – High Priest­ess Char­lotte Ram­pling gath­ers her cronies round a ta­ble and talks them through a heap of gib­ber­ish so non­sen­si­cal it could form the ba­sis for a real re­li­gion.

I won’t at­tempt any se­ri­ous pré­cis, but, suf­fice to say, Ram­pling, in­hab­it­ing a queasily sim­i­lar char­ac­ter to the one she played in John Boor­man’s barmy Zar­doz, seeks a par­tic­u­lar young woman who car­ries within her the ge­netic po­ten­tial to pro­duce a mes­siah.

I think I have that right and, if I don’t, who cares? It’s not as if you had any in­ten­tion of go­ing to see a Franco-Amer­i­can co-pro­duc­tion star­ring Diesel as a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic mer­ce­nary. Now, did you?

To be fair, the first 20 min­utes of Mathieu Kasso­vitz’s film are quite promis­ing. Arriving in a fu­ture that com­bines equal parts crum­mier Chil­dren of Men with cheesier Mad Max II, we find Vin be­ing ab­ducted by Gérard Depar­dieu, an evil mas­ter­mind, and handed an awe­some task. He is to trans­port the mys­te­ri­ous young girl (va­pid Mélanie Thierry) and her teacher (good old Michelle Yeoh) from Mon­go­lia to New York, via the ice-bound Bar­ing Strait and Canada. Some en­ter­tain­ing chase action fol­lows be­fore the lu­di­crous, tee­ter­ing su­per­struc­ture of the con­spir­acy plot looms over the hori­zon and over­pow­ers any hope of rea­son.

This ver­sion of the film is some 11 min­utes shorter than that re­leased in France, but it makes so lit­tle sense you feel a fur­ther half hour must have gone miss­ing even be­fore it ar­rived in Paris. None of which is to sug­gest we would pre­fer it any longer.

Diesel: a mid­dling Mad Max

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