Vin Diesel stars in the futuristic action extravaganza BabylonA.D. as Toorop, a mercenary-for-hire in a world made for hardenedwarriors. Diesel's role as Toorop takeson a mysterious young woman named Aurora (Melanie Thierry) along with herguardian sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh) to be transported from Kazakhstan to NewYork City.
Toorop faces obstacles at every turn and is tested likenever before, in ways he could have never imagined-as he comes to understandthat he is the custodian of the only hope for the future of mankind. For the first time, Toorop has to make achoice: to make a difference or walkaway and save himself. Toorop's arsenalof futuristic weapons includes a satellite phone with an encrypted datacommunication system; a military GPS, accurate to one-inch; tacticalmulti-media goggles; and a thermo-electric interactive map. But his most important weapon is a code ofethics, unknown in his profession, and from which he will not veer.
"Toorop has a very strong personal code and I was attractedto that part of his character," says Vin Diesel. "Toorop lives by his own personal codes of conduct, but allowsthe lines to blur in order to get his job done. This is a lesson he learned while in the military. In the film's opening scene, you see Tooropat the marketplace, and he goes from threatening a guy who owes him money atgunpoint to promising to bring a hungry kid food. He uses physical force in order to effectuate his professionalneeds, but in his heart he is a generous man."
While Babylon A.D. presents scenes of epic action andset pieces, Diesel was drawn primarily to Toorop's complexities. "I approacheach project from the perspective of the character first," Dieselexplains. "He is a war veteran who hasboth committed and witnessed such horrible atrocities that he has completelygiven up on life, on love, on hope, and has become a shell. But then you add onthe fact that this guy has these incredible survival skills and he has beenasked to protect the world's first "replecant" who is also being protected bythe likes of Michelle Yeoh! That iswhen the film becomes epic in scope."
Director/co-screenwriter Mathieu Kassovitz (La Haine),a noted actor in his own right (he had a leading role in Munich), castDiesel because he knew the actor could handle the requisite action duties whileadding critical character shadings. "Toorop is a classic anti-hero, but he has ethics and a code," says thefilmmaker. "That's why I chose Vin; he's an action hero but at the same time heallows us to explore the layers of Toorop through the adventure he undertakeswith Rebeka and Aurora."
Kassovitz had long admired Diesel's performance in hisstar-making turn as mortally wounded soldier in Saving Private Ryan, aswell as Diesel's work in big action movies like The Chronicles of Riddickand xXx. "Vin has massivestrength, both physically and internally," says the director. "Very few actors have that."
The full-throttle action scenes makes everything in the filmbigger than life: cars are airlifted by giant electric helicopters; warriorssquare off in vicious combat inside a "fight cage;" snowmobiles fly through theair while exchanging gunfire; missiles shoot through the streets of the BigApple; and video commercials are everywhere because televisions cannot beturned off-you can only change the channel.
Noted French action fight man Alain Figlarz (The Bourne Identity) headssome of the major stunt team in the movie. Figlarz worked closely with Diesel on the fight scenes.
"Toorop is a skilled fighter whose training comes from years of war. "The challenge for Alain and me was to comeup with a style that would be unique to this character, would represent amilitary fight style, but also the street. In defining his fight style, we wanted to create a look that isconsistent with a guy who also uses guns and weaponry easily, but who is adeptat hand to hand. In essence his fightstyle had to feel effective, but not overly choreographed."
Vin Diesel also notes that this sense of reality sets the film apart from otherscience fiction epics. "Babylon A.D.is set in the very near future, on earth," says the actor. "This sort of setting allows you to thinkfreely about what life could be like in a different time while also giving youa sense of reality. In essence, by setting it in the near future, you have aneasier time getting your audience to suspend belief for a minute, while youintroduce them to a world where the limits have been pushed to the maximum."
Babylon A.D. opens September 3 in Metro Manila, Cebuand Iloilo theaters from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.