It seems to me that Vin Diesel (real name: Mark Vincent), likes his routine. He rarely steps outside his comfort zone when choosing movie roles, and when he does, he always takes two steps back – as if he were terrified of this new world. Diesel has wandered into a few territories that may not have been native to his reputation (The Pacifier, Find Me Guilty), but he’s been up to his neck in what seems to be his two “can’t miss” categories – driving fast vehicles while looking tough (The Fast & The Furious series, xXx) and being in either outer space or the future (The Chronicles of Riddick, Pitch Black, the upcoming Rockfish). His latest, Babylon A.D., definitely falls in the latter, and as expected, doesn’t stray far from where he feels at home.
Diesel stars as Toorop, a mercenary with the ability to take on dozens of a heavily-armed soldier with nothing but his thoroughly unexplained, and therefore mysteriously superior, combat skills. The audience is forced to assume his ultra-tough nature since his employer dispatches a small army simply to find him while Toorop spouts Tarantino-esque lines – “If you wanted to kill me, you should’ve blown up the building”. Toorop is proposed with an all-too-tempting and seemingly simple job offer: escort a young girl from an ancient convent in Asia to New York City in six days. Of course, this easy task turns out to be much more than Toorop signed up for.
The first two acts play out as a low-rent version of Children of Men; from the reluctant yet persistent tough guy guide and the odd-acting, over-distraught girl all the way down to the bleak futuristic backdrop. Akin to Children of Men, the audience is never fully told what happened to the world for it to appear as such, nor do we ever know why exactly the girl in question needs to get to her respective destination. However, unlike the Alfonso Cuaron film, we feel no sort of desire to see our protagonist complete his mission. Toorop comes off as an uber-jock, the type of guy who shoved smaller kids into lockers and garbage cans, except in the future and with a lot more firepower.