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Babylon A.D.

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Babylon A.D.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMathieu Kassovitz
Screenplay by
  • Mathieu Kassovitz
  • Éric Besnard
Based onBabylon Babies
by Maurice G. Dantec
Produced byIlan Goldman
CinematographyThierry Arbogast
Edited byBenjamin Weill
Music byAtli Örvarsson
Distributed by20th Century Fox (International)
StudioCanal (France)[1]
Release date
  • 29 August 2008 (2008-08-29)
Running time
  • 101 minutes
  • 90 minutes
    • (United Kingdom)[3]
Budget$60–70 million[5][1]
Box office$72.1 million[1]

Babylon A.D. is a 2008 science fiction action film based on the 1999 novel Babylon Babies by Maurice Georges Dantec. The film was directed by Mathieu Kassovitz and stars Vin Diesel in the lead role, Mélanie Thierry, Michelle Yeoh, Lambert Wilson, Mark Strong, Jérôme Le Banner, Charlotte Rampling, and Gérard Depardieu. It was released on 29 August 2008 in the United States. It is an international co-production between France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[4]


In a dystopian[6] near-future,[7] Russian mobster Gorsky hires the mercenary Toorop to bring a young woman known only as Aurora from Asia to New York City. Gorsky gives Toorop a variety of weapons and a subdermally implanted UN passport. Toorop, the girl, and, her guardian, Sister Rebeka, travel from the Noelite Convent in Kyrgyzstan to reach New York via Russia.

Unlike in the technologically advanced U.S., war and terrorist activity have transformed Russia's cities into dangerous, overpopulated slums. The stress of humanity's situation causes Aurora to act out in strange ways and display clairvoyance abilities. On one such occasion, Aurora, seemingly for no reason, panics and runs from a crowded train station, just before it explodes in a terrorist attack.

The protagonists must also evade an unknown group of mercenaries claiming to have been sent by Aurora's supposedly dead father. Later, they board a submarine that carries refugees to Canada. To avoid satellite detection, the Captain of the submarine orders his crew to dive and he shoots some of the refugees still trying to get on board. Aurora, infuriated by the loss of life, operates the 30-year-old submarine without training. Sister Rebeka tells Toorop that Aurora could speak nineteen different languages by the age of two, and always seems to know things she has never learned. Three months before leaving with Toorop, she began acting differently. This occurred after a Noelite doctor administered a pill. The doctor told her to go to New York City and arranged for Toorop to escort them.

After arriving in Alaska with help from Toorop's associate, Finn, the protagonists are attacked by weaponized drones. Toorop manages to destroy all the drones, but also gets wounded. These perils cause Finn to betray the group, so Toorop shoots him dead.

Once in Harlem, a news broadcast about the bombing of the Kyrgyzstan convent causes the group to realize there is more going on than they know. The Noelites have become a major new salvationist religion, which vast numbers of people cling to as the world spirals out of control. However, in private meetings, it is seen that their High Priestess only desires power and uses invented miracles to court converts. Gorsky, working for the Noelites, had planted a tracking device in Toorop's passport and bombed the convent when he knew they were in the United States. The doctor who earlier saw Aurora examines her again in a hotel room. When he leaves, Aurora reveals (without being told) that she is pregnant with twins despite being a virgin.

Looking outside the hotel, Toorop sees Gorsky's men and the Noelite group, heavily armed and waiting for them on the street. The High Priestess calls Toorop and asks him to bring Aurora outside. Just before they take her away, Toorop changes his mind and starts a firefight with the two groups to get the two women to safety. Gorsky's men fire guided missiles at Toorop that track his subdermal passport. Rebeka gets killed defending Aurora, who in turn shoots Toorop, saying, "I need you to live." Toorop's clinical death causes the guided missile to go off target (missing Toorop) and explode near Aurora instead; she inexplicably survives.

Dr. Arthur Darquandier revives Toorop using advanced medical techniques, but several of Toorop's body parts are replaced with cybernetics to undo the damage of being dead for over two hours. Darquandier explains that when Aurora was a fetus, he implanted a supercomputer into her brain. It is also implied that the Noelite group had him create Aurora to become pregnant at a certain time to use her as a "virgin birth". After she was born, the Noelites hired Gorsky to kill Darquandier, but he failed. Darquandier remained "dead" until he found his daughter in Russia with Toorop.

Darquandier uses a machine to scan Toorop's memory to find out what Aurora said to him before and shortly after shooting him. In Toorop's memory, Aurora tells Toorop to "go home". Toorop and several of Darquandier's men leave the facility. En route to Darquandier's lab, Gorsky calls the High Priestess, demanding payment; during the subsequent videocall the High Priestess kills Gorsky by nuclear missile. The High Priestess confronts and kills Darquandier, but Toorop has already escaped. Toorop goes to his old house in the forest, finds Aurora, and takes her to a hospital, where, six months later, she dies after giving birth. Aurora was "designed to breed", not to live, so her death after childbirth was preprogrammed. Toorop takes care of her two children.

In a scene that is only present in the theatrical cut but was removed from the director's cut, the twins are shown to be one that looks like Aurora and the other like Toorop.


  • Vin Diesel as Hugo Toorop, a mercenary and a former Marine (full name is "Hugo Cornelius Toorop" in the Babylon Babies novel). He is a professional smuggler from upstate New York, who has been deported to Eastern Europe where he does mercenary jobs as a smuggler. He's an expert in advanced weaponry, hand-to-hand combat, tactics and culinary.
  • Michelle Yeoh as Sister Rebeka, a nun from an ascetic branch of the Noelites. She's originally from San Francisco. When she was 17-years-old, she joined the Noelites in order to escape an abusive relationship. She ended up in their Mongolian convent where she became Aurora's guardian.
  • Mélanie Thierry as Aurora, a young woman who's been given shelter by the Noelite nuns. Since when she was a child, she showed supernatural knowledge in all kind of fields and by the age of two she was already able to speak 19 languages. She can also sense danger.
  • Gérard Depardieu as Gorsky, a wealthy Russian mobster who hires Toorop to transport Aurora to the United States on behalf of the Noelite Church. He owns a private army and lives inside an APC fitted like a limo, constantly surrounded by a convoy of his soldiers.
  • Charlotte Rampling as the CEO of the Noelite church. She does not really care about the religion, and only seeks power and wealth. She is planning to use science to produce miracles, thus extending the popularity and reach of her church.
  • Mark Strong as Finn, a Russian smuggler who's an old associate of Toorop's. He is ready to help transport Aurora across borders, yet Toorop doesn't entirely trust him.
  • Lambert Wilson as Dr. Arthur Darquandier, Aurora's disabled father who was presumed to be dead.
  • David Belle as Hacker Kid, the leader of Darquandier's henchmen who are following Toorop and Aurora to America.
  • Jérôme Le Banner as Killa, an underground fighter.


Preparing for the filming in Ostrava-Poruba, Czech Republic


Mathieu Kassovitz worked on an English-language film adaptation of Maurice Georges Dantec's French novel Babylon Babies for five years;[8] in June 2005, this project got financing from StudioCanal and Twentieth Century Fox.[9] The adapted screenplay was written by Kassovitz and screenwriter Éric Besnard. Production was initially slated to begin in February 2006 in Canada and Eastern Europe.[10]


French actor Vincent Cassel was initially sought to be cast in the lead role.[11] In February 2006, actor Vin Diesel entered negotiations to star in the film, titled Babylon A.D.,[12] dropping out of the lead role of Hitman in the process.[13]


The shooting schedule was slated to begin in June 2006.[14] By February 2007, filming was slated to wrap in April to release Babylon A.D. in time for the coming Thanksgiving.[15] In February, filming took place at Barrandov Studios.[16] In March 2007, the filming crew, having shot in the Czech Republic, took a two-week hiatus to deal with uncooperative weather, such as the lack of snow, and problems with set construction. Crew members scouted Iceland for locations with snow to shoot six to eight days of footage, which was supposed to be done in February. Filming was also done with the leads Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, and Mélanie Thierry in Ostrava in March.[5] The French visual effects company BUF Compagnie was contracted to develop the film's effects under the supervision of Stephane Ceretti.[17]

In April 2007, actor Lambert Wilson was cast into the film.[18] Filming was completed in May 2007.[19]

American artist Khem Caigan designed the sigil that appears as a tattoo on the right side of Toorop's neck – an emblem which originally appeared in the Schlangekraft Necronomicon in 1977.[citation needed]

Mathieu Kassovitz said that 20th Century Fox interfered throughout production, and he never had a chance to shoot a scene the way it was scripted, or the way he wanted it to be.[20] A French language documentary of the troubled creation of the film entitled Fucking Kassovitz was released in 2011.[21]


The music of Babylon A.D. was written by Icelandic composer Atli Örvarsson. The music supervisor of the movie was Jérôme Hadey. The musical alliance Achozen, represented by Shavo Odadjian and RZA performed the score for the film. Music producer Hans Zimmer described the intended style: "Musically, our objective was to merge the sounds and energies of hip hop with classical music, seamlessly melting them into an unusual soundscape."[22]


Babylon A.D. was originally stated to be released in the United States on 29 February 2008, but its release was postponed to 29 August 2008.[23] As of 31 January 2009, the film had grossed $72,105,690 worldwide.[1] In the US the film was placed #2 behind Tropic Thunder with $9,484,627 in 3,390 cinemas with a $2,798 average.[24]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 7% approval rating based on 105 reviews and an average rating of 3.20/10, with the consensus calling it "a poorly constructed, derivative sci-fi stinker with a weak script and poor action sequences."[25] On Metacritic it has a score of 26% based on 15 reviews, indicating "Generally unfavorable reviews".[26] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade D+ on scale of A to F.[27]

Jordan Mintzer of Variety called it "A noisier, costlier version of "Children of Men," yet lacking that film's social-political significance and jaw-dropping direction."[28]

Home media[edit]

Babylon A.D. was released on Blu-ray and DVD in Europe (Region 2) on 29 December 2008,[29] and in the United States (Region 1) on 6 January 2009.[30] At the same time, the French 101-minute version was released on Blu-ray in the US as Babylon A.D. – Raw and Uncut.[31]


  1. ^ a b c d "Babylon A.D." Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  2. ^ UniFrance Films: Babylon A.D. Retrieved 2014-07-04
  3. ^ "Babylon A.D. (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 31 March 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d "Babylon A.D. (2008)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 24 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  5. ^ a b Alison James (15 March 2007). "'Babylon' gets back on track". Variety. Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  6. ^ Babylon A.D. Review. empireonline.com (2 August 2008). Retrieved on 7 September 2020.
  7. ^ [1]. variety.com (20 August 2008). Retrieved on 7 June 2022.
  8. ^ Anne Thompson. "Babylon A.D.: Kassovitz on Warpath Against Fox - Thompson on Hollywood on Variety.com". Variety. Archived from the original on 14 September 2008.
  9. ^ Fleming, Michael (23 June 2005). "Fox beckoned by 'Babylon'". Variety.
  10. ^ "Big-Screen Babylon". IGN. 24 June 2005. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
  11. ^ "Vin Diesel to Topline Babylon A.D.". ComingSoon.net. 5 February 2006. Archived from the original on 10 April 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
  12. ^ Alison James (8 February 2006). "Studio Canal eyes English-lingo pix". Variety. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  13. ^ Nicole Laporte; Michael Fleming (17 January 2007). "Olyphant to shoot 'Hit Man'". Variety. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  14. ^ Liza Klaussman (14 May 2006). "Parlez vous anglais?". Variety. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
  15. ^ Alison James (9 February 2007). "Legende plans TV series, touts films". Variety. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
  16. ^ Katja Hofmann (9 February 2007). "Czech movies shine at Berlin". Variety. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
  17. ^ Rebecca Leffler (10 April 2007). "France new star in global effects biz". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
  18. ^ "Wilson Boards Babylon CE and Heaven". ComingSoon.net. 29 April 2007. Archived from the original on 2 May 2007. Retrieved 30 April 2007.
  19. ^ Alison James (18 May 2007). "Starry pics put Studio Canal back on map". Variety. Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  20. ^ Clayton Neuman (25 August 2008). "Masters of Scifi – Babylon A.D. Director Mathieu Kassovitz Describes a Disastrous Production". /Film. Archived from the original on 26 August 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  21. ^ "Fucking Kassovitz : le making of interdit de Babylon A.D. en intégralité". Premiere.fr. 17 September 2015.
  22. ^ "Shavo Scores First Feature Film". Ultimate-Guitar.com. 14 December 2007. Archived from the original on 16 September 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2008.
  23. ^ Peter Sciretta (3 November 2007). "Babylon A.D. Pushed BACK". /Film. Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
  24. ^ "Weekend Results from 8/29 to 8/31". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  25. ^ "Babylon A.D. (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 30 December 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2023.
  26. ^ "Babylon A.D." Metacritic.
  27. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 20 December 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  28. ^ Mintzer, Jordan (20 August 2008). "Babylon A.D." Variety.
  29. ^ "Amazon UK: Babylon A.D.". Amazon UK. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  30. ^ "Amazon US: Babylon A.D.". Amazon. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  31. ^ "MovieFreak: Babylon A.D. – Raw and Uncut". Archived from the original on 7 April 2015. Retrieved 4 July 2014.

External links[edit]