Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever Review

Sep 20, 2002 | 4:04am EDT

Jeremiah Ecks (Antonio Banderas) is a retired FBI agent who is having a hard time dealing with his wife's death when his former mentor tells him she is actually alive and will reveal her whereabouts on the condition he accept this one last assignment. The assignment from what I can gather revolves around locating this injectable microscopic assassination device. As it turns out Ecks' wife Vinn (Talisa Soto) never died but instead married this really bad and powerful guy named Gant (Gregg Henry) who heads the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The slimy Gant uses their five-year-old son to transport the device from country to country by hiding it in a Band-Aid on the kid's arm. Enter Sever (Lucy Liu) a disaffected DIA agent with a bone to pick with Gant. It seems the DIA adopted Sever--an orphan girl from China--and trained her to be a perfect assassin but she turned against the agency when her baby was killed in a DIA mission. Ultimately she joins forces with Ecks to reunite him with his wife the kid (whom she kidnaps to protect from the bad guys) and get revenge on Gant. I just did this film great justice by explaining the plot because it actually made no sense at all. Next to Gymkata this is probably one of the worst films ever made. It makes you wonder if anyone even read the script before giving the project the greenlight.

Liu's character Sever is so utterly inconceivable that this Charlie's Angels star never really has a chance to do anything constructive with it. Sever's character has no real depth. We are supposed to believe there is something to her because she has mastered origami the art of Japanese paper folding. She even makes a little origami mobile for the boy she kidnaps and stashes in a cage--give me a break. Complete with lines that rarely exceed more than a dozen words it is not surprising that Liu cannot pump any life or emotion into her brokenhearted villain. Banderas' character Ecks is slightly more multifaceted but too implausible to buy. When Ecks reunites with his wife Vinn whom he believes died in an explosion five years earlier there is no emotion whatsoever. How come he doesn't ask the obvious like "What happened? Where have you been--and why are you married to that sleazeball you claim to hate so much?" As Vinn Soto's character is just as irritating and hard to comprehend. She married someone despicable because she thought Ecks was dead. Is being single such a sin or are there no other men out there for her to hook up with? Although they play her character up as being tough she comes across as desperate and weak.

Director Wych "Kaos" Kaosayananda tried to turn a convoluted mess of a script into a glossy and stylized actioner but instead delivered a really bad movie. The film is peppered with one too many slow-motion shots of ammo flying out high-powered automatic weaponry which we already saw in The Matrix and almost every action movie since. There is one good slow motion shot of a sniper falling off a building arms flailing on to the roof of a car the impact popping a wheel of the vehicle. But who wants to see slow motion shots of some extra falling to his death? Kaos should have saved those for significant moments involving key players. The messy script penned by Alan McElroy has a strange Saturday morning cartoon feel to it complete with showdown confession where the villain divulges everything to the protagonist. And although there is plenty of opportunity for the bad guys to kill off both Ecks and Sever they never do but instead--with weapons pointed directly at them--let them give little spiels and cartwheel off into obscurity.

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