The Disney+ Sci-Fi Action Thriller Blockbuster With An A-List Star

By Robert Scucci | Published

Babylon A.D.

Vin Diesel is most well-known for his portrayal of Dominick Toretto in the Fast and Furious Franchise. But during his ascension into A-list status in the early aughts, he had his name attached to a number of drama and science-fiction films that have since been overlooked. 2008’s Babylon AD is one such film, and it has all the typical Vin Diesel trappings we know and love.

What sets Babylon AD apart from more recent Vin Diesel films is its dystopian premise set in the not-so-distant future. Based on the 1999 novel Babylon Babies, the film is set primarily in the overpopulated slums of Russia before its narrative traverses continents and takes us to Asia, Alaska, and finally, New York City.

Disney+ Vin Diesel

Boasting the same kind of action sequences you’d expect to witness in a science-fiction action blockbuster, Babylon ADs narrative quickly makes it clear that the fate of humanity hinges on the abilities and fortitude of one man: Hugo Toorop.

Vin Diesel’s Hugo Toorop is your by-the-numbers badass mercenary and smuggler who is an expert in advanced weaponry and martial arts. He also has the culinary prowess to know exactly how to season rat meat purchased from a street vendor into something relatively palatable.

Vin Diesel and Michelle Yeoh on Disney+
Vin Diesel and Michelle Yeoh in Babylon A.D.

Babylon AD starts out showing us how terrible life is for Hugo and the average Eastern European civilian, and we’re also clued into how military technology has advanced for all of the wrong reasons.

When Hugo is tasked with smuggling a young woman named Aurora from Asia to New York City, the full scope of his mission isn’t quite clear. But one thing we know for certain is that whatever is about to go down in Babylon AD will require an unthinkable amount of weapons.

Babylon A.D.

Aurora’s purpose is also shrouded in mystery during Babylon AD’s first act, but it’s clear that she’s extremely gifted. Not only does she possess clairvoyance abilities, but she also has the uncanny ability to recall complex information that she doesn’t necessarily remember learning. As the story moves along, we learn that Aurora is part of something much more sinister than a simple smuggling mission.

Though the theatrical cut of Babylon AD is visually stunning, there was a lot of trouble behind the scenes while it was being filmed. Production was halted numerous times due to uncooperative weather and studio interference. Director Mathieu Kassovitz was actually prominently featured in a documentary called F*cking Kassovitz, which talked at length about how he never actually had a chance to shoot scenes the way they were originally scripted.

Vin Diesel as Hugo Toorop

But what was even worse than Babylon AD’s troubled production was how poorly it was received by critics and audiences. This Vin Diesel film garnered a seven percent critical score against a 26 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Most reviewers agree that Babylon AD comes off as a watered-down version of Children of Men mixed with Blade Runner.

Babylon AD did receive a healthy amount of praise for its pacing, set design, and cinematography, however. Though there’s no denying that we’re dealing with some pretty derivative speculative science-fiction, we have to give credit where it’s due because the irradiated cities, as well as the action sequences, do not fail to deliver.

Scene from Babylon A.D.

Babylon AD was an ill-fated exercise in post-apocalyptic pondering. But if you’re a Vin Diesel fan, you’ll appreciate Hugo Toorop and his unwavering commitment to get the job done no matter what the cost.

If you’ve heard enough and want to give Babylon AD a shot, it’s currently available for streaming through the Hulu section of Disney+. Make sure you’re up to date on both platforms because the new app combining both services is currently in beta.