Action Movie Fanatix Review: Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever

Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever

Your Most Dangerous Enemies Are The Friends You’ve Double-Crossed.

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu, Gregg Henry, Ray Park, Talisa Soto

Director: Kaos

2002  |  91 Minutes  |  Rated R

“So, my daughter wanted to know why you looked so sad.  I told her it was because you just got beat up by a girl.” – Harry Lee

Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever is a notoriously bad movie.  It is panned by critics and movie goers everywhere.  I tried my very best to not let that affect my experience.

Jeremiah Ecks (Antonio Banderas) is pulled out of FBI retirement to find who kidnapped DIA director, Robert Gant’s son.  Sever (Lucy Liu), a highly trained former DIA agent, is that kidnapper.  Ecks discovers that Gant had stolen a tiny nano-bot that can kill a man from the inside.  We also find out that Gant had killed Sever’s son at some point.  Ecks chases Sever.  Sever tells Ecks that his wife is still alive and how to find her.  It turns out that Mrs. Ecks (Talisa Soto) is now married to Robert Gant (Presumably making her name Vinn Ecks-Gant.  What the Hell!?!).  She also reveals that the boy who we are led to believe is Gant’s son is actually Ecks’ son.  Now Ecks & Sever will team to take down Gant.

Sound silly and confusing?  It is.  First of all, I would like to point out that Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever was directed by someone named Kaos… that just might be where the problem with this movie began.  The direction is horrible.  The scenes bounce between nonsensicle action scenes and incredibly boring scenes that are meant to move the story forward but generally only serve to confuse us more.

OK, so there is a lot of action in Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever (I am already sick of typing that full, ridiculous title out so much).  That can sometimes be enough for me.  I don’t always need a big thinker of a plot.  I often prefer to not have to think overly hard to figure out what in the world is going on.  Ballistic (that’s all its getting from here on out) just doesn’t do enough for me to really get into it.  It steals some of its style from The Matrix as Lucy Liu performs some very over the top martial arts and somersaulting gunfighting to some lame techno tracks.  I am not completely anti-techno but the use of techno in Ballistic is akin to the use of horrid rock songs Jet Li’s The One.

There are tons of explosions, gun battles and martial arts fights but yet almost no blood.  A bullet in the chest, a broken nose, being thrown from a motorcycle… still no blood.  I’m not sure what caused this to get an R rating.

The action scenes also don’t make a ton of sense.  For example, when Sever tries to escape in a bright yellow ’80s Mustang LX (apparently they couldn’t find a GT for this) she hits Ecks with the car, he goes flipping over the top of the car and lands hard on his shoulder and back but still has the wherewithal to shoot one of the tires on her car.  With one rear tire completely blown out the car doesn’t swerve out of control, instead it just charges forward and plows straight into the back of a truck.  Apparently Ecks shot the brakes and steering out too.  But don’t worry Sever isn’t hurt, when Ecks checks the car she has already disappeared.

Another scene has Sever set off explosives on both sides of a number of SWAT looking agents chasing her.  Moments later we are shown those men getting up and proceeding the chase.  No harm done.

On top of the complete and total nonsense that are Ballistic’s action sequences is an over wealming feeling of cheapness/cheapity.  How a $70 million movie can feel low budget is beyond me.  Sure the explosions and gunfire look good but the set pieces and acting seem like they belong in a TV movie.  Not to mention the motorcycle chase which seems to be filmed at about 35 miles per hour.

Antonio Banderas just doesn’t seem to be feeling it in the scenes where he actually needs to do some acting.  Part of the problem is that those around him aren’t even capable of delivering a believable line of dialogue.  He does fine when he is blazing away with gun in hand but these scenes are actually few and far between for him.  Lucy Liu sees a lot more action than Banderas.

Lucy Liu looks impressive in her martial arts, even if the style is derivative of The Matrix.  She is equally believable in a fist fight as she is in a fire fight.  The problem again is that she just seems to be phoning-it-in in the acting department.  What few lines she has seem to be simply read right from the script without any emotion, even when talking about her dead son.

It’s good to see Darth Maul/Toad/Snake Eyes not having to hide his face for this one.  Ray Park belongs in more action movies…PERIOD.  The guy is a trained stunt man and martial artist.  His A.J. Ross doesn’t get into the action in this one until a so-so fight with Sever at the very end.  Honestly, this is the highlight of the entire movie for me.  Had they extended this fight out to be a few minutes longer it could have slightly improved my overall perception of Ballistic.  But alas, it was far too short.  The entire fight takes place next to a vat of some sort of bubbling chemical.  How awesome could it have been to have Sever break Ross’ neck and then drop him into the vat only to have his body float back to the surface with his skin melting off his body, ala Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Again, didn’t happen.

Then there’s the kid.  I don’t like to knock a kid’s acting.  He’s just a kid but Kaos could at least try to get a tiny amount of emotion from him.  The kid is locked in a cage with a strange woman holding him hostage and he can’t be bothered to be the least bit scared or cry.  Apparently he is abducted and instantly comes down with a case of Stockholm Syndrome.

Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever just isn’t good.  I can usually find some reason to enjoy a movie but I spent the better part of an hour and a half wishing for the end to finally come.  It’s a poorly acted, boring action movie with a crap story backing it up.  I don’t really know what else to say.  I just recommend you stay away.  For once the critics were right.