This film’s poster could have read, “This summer… well, at the end of this summer where all the studios dump their troubled projects, the director of Assassins brings you a 90 minute version of the original, much longer film that we hope is something like Minority Report, Children of Men or The Fifth Element.”
Vin Diesel displays his usual strong screen presence as an opportunistic mercenary named Toorop who quickly becomes a reluctant hero on his new assignment. Toorop’s wanted status on the terrorist list, a spooky premonition, and intensely increasing pursuits all point towards an “against all odds” climax where rules quickly get broken and the protagonists predictably face overwhelming odds.
Action star/model Michelle Yeoh co-stars as Sister Rebeka, a capable guardian for a special young woman named Aurora. The mysterious Aurora, played by French actress Melanie Thierry, knows things she’s never experienced as the audience gradually discovers her abilities. “I don’t want anyone to die for me,” she says during one of several genuinely human dramas throughout the film, including a touching sequence involving a cage fighter, played by the famous Jerome Le Banner (yes, he does fight with Diesel). Toorop and Aurora also have a short but effective dialogue scene in a train discussing God’s creations and man’s. Survival bonds this unique trio into a unique relationship thrust between two sides relentlessly seeking Aurora.
On one side, Darguandier, played by Lambert Wilson, provides some explanation through cutting edge technologies. On the other side, the High Priestess of the No Light movement, played by experienced British actress Charlotte Rampling, fights for "decent, God-fearing people" while blanketing society with the ideologies to become the dominant religion. Toorop recruits some help from a fellow mercenary named Finn, played by Mark Strong, who offers another perspective on why these parties want Aurora so badly.
The filmmakers do a very bad makeup job on Gorsky, played by Gerard Depardieu. Audiences can definitely tell something is off, which distracts from Gorsky instead of bolstering his character. This snafu seems to provide an element of unpredictability similar to the face disguises in the Mission Impossible film series, but only disappoints.
Icelandic composer Atli Orvarsson joins forces with RZA for the fast-paced music, which enhances the film a bit. Director Mathieu Kassovitz gets some amazing settings like the Bering Strait for his characters while incorporating aerial shots and close-ups from space to give audiences an epic perspective. The screenplay, co-written by the director and two relative newcomers, spends too much energy using character dialogue to describe character abilities and situations instead of showing them visually.
Events are based on book by Maurice G. Dantec (avoid looking at the actual title during the beginning credit to preserve a mild surprise in the film). The choppy transitions and disjointed screenplay often overwhelm the positive. Not recommended and rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some sexuality. Give this film a chance when the director’s cut releases on home video.