I’m not entirely sure what I just saw. It seems like it was some attempt at a high-brow religiously fueled science fiction epic that somehow went totally wrong. What a mess. How a chop-job like this ever made it onto the big screen is beyond me. You really do get the feeling that the director had something intelligent he wanted to do, but was completely sabotaged during production and definitely in the editing room. Of course, we all know this from the interviews that director Kassovitz did the week before the movie was released. When you actually see it unfold before your very eyes, it’s almost disturbingly surreal.
The film really does waste the talented actors that were hired to flesh out the characters onscreen. They all do their very best to salvage and carry this disaster as much as they can. Even Vin Diesel seems to take his role seriously in this. You have genuinely talented individuals like Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Tomorrow Never Dies), Gérard Depardieu (Green Card, Hamlet, 1492: Conquest of Paradise), and Lambert Wilson (The Matrix Reloaded, Don Quixote, Frankenstein) all attempting to muddle their way through this incoherent mess and making the most of it.
What can be said about the cinematography and scenery? The cinematography was way too sterile and clean. It was like the dirt wasn’t even dirty. It was just way too slick to be gritty, which is what I think would have worked better. As far as the scenery, it’s the same old same old. The futuristic New York backdrop is your typical Blade Runner-esque neon light architecture, complete with bubbly automobiles and other different types of transportation flying around. It didn’t look bad; it just wasn’t anything you hadn’t already seen in every other near future film from the past. You know – The Fifth Element, Strange Days, etc.
The one thing that really did look bad was the soundstage that was supposed to be the streets of Harlem. Come on, man. Those streets and sidewalks were so clean, I would have dropped a piece of candy on them and picked it right up and ate it. I don’t know what part of New York and Harlem these guys were in. They did do a good job with the Russian and foreign cities and towns they went through. You really did feel a kind of hopelessness and claustrophobic paranoia as they traveled from one war-torn place to the next.
The action sequences were also pretty lackluster and uneventful. It must have been how they were edited or put together. They just didn’t seem to have any oomph. It was almost like they had all the excitement and legitimacy sucked out of them. It really gave it a sort of paint-by-numbers vibe.
Would I suggest someone take the time to watch this? Not really. Is it the worst film ever made? Not by a long shot. I guess if you’re stuck one afternoon at the mall and you have the choice between seeing one of those self-absorbed indie flicks, whatever new animated kid drivel has just been released, or this – I’ll take this.