Here's a "For Your Consideration" piece from Stuart Levine writing for MSNBC.com. He says,
If audiences found “21 Grams” too depressing and unrelentingly bleak, they won’t be rushing out to see “Babel.” Their loss. It’s one of the most complex, well-acted and thought-provoking films of the year, and, quite possibly, a best-picture nomination.
Now, compare that with this commentary from Newsweek,
I might buy "Babel" if it had any real interest in its characters, but it's too busy moving them around its mechanistic chessboard to explore any nuances or depths. What you see at first glance is what you get. The lonely, alienated Japanese teenager is a touching figure, to be sure (how can you go wrong with a pretty, cruelly rejected deaf girl?), but what's she doing in this story, anyway? Oh, I forgot to mention, her father, a hunter, gave the rifle in question to the Moroccan goatherder. It's a link all right, but meaningless.
And this from David Edelstein of NY Magazine,
The theme appears to be Americans who are scarily vulnerable in the impoverished Third World—but what does that disturbed Japanese girl have to do with anything? There is a connection, it turns out, but a tenuous one, and when the filmmakers start playing fancy tricks with the timeline, you might be tempted to throw up your hands. Tricky storytelling is an irritant when you can’t trust the storyteller.
Conclusion: This film may not register with many audiences in the same way Inarritu's previous two films, Amores Perros and 21 Grams (Babel is touted as Part III of this trilogy) didn't. Whether it's a shame is yet to be known because I have not seen the film. Amores Perros and 21 Grams were both excellent and received outstanding reviews The early reviews for Babel do not appear to be as promising.