"Save the planet. Whenever I've read that bumper sticker I've had to laugh. Save the planet. What for? And from what, from ourselves? Life's simple: kill or be killed. Don't get involved, and always finish the job. A survivor's code, my code. And it all sounds great until the day you find yourself confronted by a choice. A choice to make a difference, to help someone — or to walk away and save yourself. I learnt something that day: you can't always walk away. Too bad it was the day I died."
— Toorop's opening narration
Babylon A.D. is a Cyber Punk action film based on the novel Babylon Babies by French (naturalised Canadian) sci-fi writer Maurice G. Dantec. In a near-future world divided by nationalistic and religious conflict, a mercenary called Toorop (played by Vin Diesel) is hired by a Russian mobster to escort a woman to North America for delivery to the Neolites, a New Age sect.
This film provides examples of:
Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: When the protagonists make camp after crossing the Bering Strait, Toorop has a heart-to-heart talk with Aurora about how tired he is of the wars he's seen and wants to return to the United States to live a quiet life.
Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Toorop is hit by fighter drones while escorting Aurora and Sister Rebeka across the Bering Strait. His 'friend' Finn decides to take Aurora for himself, believing she's a priceless viral weapon. When Sister Rebeka objects he says matter-of-factly: "You, I don't need." A shot then rings out...and Finn falls dead, revealing the Not Quite Dead Toorop holding a pistol. The scene works well because Rebeka is not a main character, and thus more likely to get shot.
Beast and Beauty: The bare-knuckle brawler in the refugee camp is instantly smitten with Aurora and tries to protect her from kidnappers.
Checkpoint Charlie: Toorop, Sister Rebeka and Aurora have to cross the Bering Strait, despite it being patrolled by Attack Drones that kill everything that moves (literally, the drones killed two polar bears).
Coincidental Broadcast: Used more judiciously than usual. There's an entire wall showing dozens of channels, which makes it easier to accept if at least one of the channels is showing something relevant.
Convection Schmonvection: In slow motion, during the New York shoot out, Aurora and Sister Rebekah have a missile pass not more than a foot in front of their faces. This should not be pleasant.
Cool Car: Gorsky's armoured personnel carrier with gatling turrets, luxurious interior and all-round plasma screen 'windows' showing thermal images of what's outside.
Corrupt Church: The Neolites, a combination of New Age cult and high-tech corporate money-making machine.
Darquandier: "Your church is a lie! You're peddling miracles for your own profit!"
Crapsack World: Apparently, a large chunk of the planet outside of North America is a decrepit, run-down wasteland. While even in the United States, there's so much decadence and corruption that it's a miracle that it hasn't imploded.
Cyborg: Toorop's right arm and left leg are replaced with cybernetics to undo the damage of being dead for over two hours. This apparently gives him enhanced strength — When Toorop grabs his shoulder Darquandier winces, and he kicks open a chained metal door during the Hummer chase. Darquandier is also a cyborg as he was crippled by a carbomb.
Doesn't Like Guns: Sister Rebeka turns down the gun Toorop offers her, but doesn't hesitate to grab one in New York. Subverted with Aurora, who's the last person you'd expect to use a gun until she threatens them on the submarine and later shoots Toorop in New York.
(Gorsky's security system detects an incoming missile)
Even Evil Has Standards: Toorop is tracked down in his apartment on Gorsky's orders by a group led by Karl, a mercenary whom Toorop knew previously. It's implied that Toorop threatened to kill him because Karl was murdering infants in the Sudan and blows up entire buildings to get single targets.
Toorop: Oh, you're a disgrace to the profession. You're not a mercenary, you're a fucking terrorist.
Immune to Bullets: A small missile explodes in Aurora's face, powerful enough to blast SUV's aside, yet she doesn't even flinch. No explanation is given other than the babies are somehow protecting her.
The Ingenue: Aurora in the movie, but averted with Marie Zorn in the novel: a schizophrenic prostitute who was simply meant to be a courier for the babies. Unfortunately for the Neolites her Mysterious Past starts to complicate things.
Instant Death Bullet: Toorop wouldn't have time to die from a shot to the heart (it takes at least ten seconds) before the missile struck; the tracker would still have been working.
High Priestess: Mr Gorsky, when I kill, I kill for good. Gorsky: Are you threatening me? High Priestess: Bless your soul. Gorsky:You'll need a nuke to kill me! (Gorsky's security system detects an incoming missile) Gorsky: Bitch...
Kick the Dog: The High Priestess destroys the convent where Aurora was brought up in with a missile strike, presumably to remove evidence of her past that would obscure her status as a modern Virgin Mary.
Laser Sight: The mooks Gorsky sends to grab Toorop use these. Justified as they're trying to intimidate him into coming quietly. He doesn't.
Le Parkour: Darquandier's men show these skills when chasing the protagonists through the marketplace and refugee camp.
Limited Animation: The CGI drones do the same "unloading the missile" animation several times. They don't even flip the scene to make it different.
Live-Action Escort Mission: The film revolves around a mercenary transporting a Messiah-like convent girl from war-torn Russia to New York City. Emphasized in the movie more than the novel (where Toorop and his charge just hops on the plane to Montreal rather than making a hazardous Border Crossing).
Mad Scientist: Inverted with Darquandier; his experiment has positive rather than negative effects.
Mood Killer: After saving each others life, Toorop, Aurora and Rebekah start to loosen up, then Aurora's states, "We've protected each other, like family....We're all going to die in New York."
Neural Implanting: Aurora was raised in a convert, yet can speak nineteen languages by the age of two and knows how to operate an obsolete ex-Soviet nuclear submarine. Darquandier later reveals he used Artificial Intelligence on her fetus in order to enhance her ability to process information.
Not Quite Dead: Toorop is shot by Aurora so the tracking missile won't kill him. He's then revived by Dr Darquandier, who's also supposedly 'dead'.
Oh Crap: Toorop realises he's been locked in with a punch-drunk bare knuckle brawler who's even bigger than he is. Toorop being targeted by a miniature guided missile. Gorsky being targeted by a nuclear weapon.
Ominous Multiple Screens: In the apartment in New York there was a setting that showed what was likely hundreds of channels at once. Though that seemed to simply be a menu setting, as it was possible to single one out.
Open Says Me: In the chase scene, Toorop uses his cybernetic leg to kick open a chained and padlocked Hummer rear door.
The Ophelia: Aurora has touches of this, though she's not mad. She does gets hysterical when she has visions, but that's because what she's seeing is not pretty.
Out of the Inferno: In the opening, Aurora is seen in a fireball reflected in the protagonist's eye.
Parental Substitute: Aurora has several of these; Rebeka who raised her in the convert, while Darquandier and the High Priestess both refer to Aurora as their daughter and act Like an Old Married Couple who've undergone a nasty divorce.
Posthumous Narration: Toorop states at the beginning that he's going to die, and we see it happen. Flashback to a week earlier. Subverted as it turns out he's revived after being shot through the heart, and the other two protagonists are killed instead.
Product Placement: An airliner with a Coke Zero ad painted across its entire surface. The Big Applesauce is also full of advertising, some of it related to the plot, others for products well known to the audience.
Prophecy Twist: Aurora predicts they're all going to die in New York. Rebeka is indeed killed in the shootout. Toorop also dies, but he gets revived. Aurora dies during childbirth in a hospital in the state of New York.
Psychic Powers: Aurora is carrying twins who can affect events outside the womb before they're even born. They enable Aurora to see future events and survive a missile that explodes right in front of her.
Real Men Cook: Toorop shoots a rabbit and cooks it up for the two women he's escorting across the border. When one asks where he learnt to cook, he says its Rule Number One in the mercenary business.
Rule Number One: Inverted from the usual version it's Sister Rebeka who gives the rules to Badass mercenary Toorop, the last of which is "No foul language." Toorop gives a not-quite amused smile.
"You listen to my one and only rule. Don't fuck with me. Or I'll leave you standing in the middle of nowhere with nothing but your ass to sell to get back here."
When their relationship loosens up a bit, Toorop admits that Rule Number One for a mercenary is learning how to cook.
Say My Name: Toorop calls Aurora by her name for the first time just before she dies.
Scavenger World: Russia has become a ravaged country with areas controlled by warlords and nuclear contamination zones.
Tempting Fate: When the High Priestess of the Noelites threatens to kill Gorsky he scoffs it off, since he's so well-protected that she would pretty much have to drop a nuclear bomb on his head to do him in. Missile launch detected...
Twenty Minutes into the Future: Babylon Babies was published in 1999 and takes place in 2013. Based on several references throughout the film, the movie probably takes place in the late 2020s or the 2030s.