Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever

on September 20, 2002 by Mark Keizer
Never has sound and fury signified so little as in the awkwardly titled "Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever." Ninety-one minutes of confusing nonsense, the film manages to be obnoxious in parts, yet strangely inert as a whole. Thailand-born director Kaos (real name: Wych Kaosayananda) has obviously seen the same movies we have (namely "The Matrix"), however, he brings nothing new to the action table. The fact is, not one chase or gun battle is even remotely interesting. For some reason, Kaos believes that if he just blows stuff up, audiences will think it's cool. Not only is he sadly mistaken, but he shows little chance of following in the footsteps of John Woo, a foreign-born director he so obviously admires.

In the film, former FBI agent Ecks (a stoic Antonio Banderas) still reels from the death of his wife seven years earlier. Enter Ecks' old boss Julio (a stoic Miguel Sandoval) with an offer: Return to the agency for one, last mission and he'll provide information proving his wife is still alive. Ecks accepts the assignment, which pits him against a killing machine named Sever (a stoic Lucy Liu). Sever has kidnapped the child of intelligence honcho Robert Gant (a stoic Gregg Henry) because the boy has unwittingly smuggled a high-tech nano-device that, when shot into the bloodstream, causes a heart attack. Why a villain would spend millions of dollars on a microscopic killing machine when a bullet is cheaper and just as effective is never explained. In fact, much of the plot is hard to follow, with shifting alliances, murky motivations and Banderas' ever-thickening accent. Eventually, Ecks finds his wife, (Talia Soto) and joins forces with Sever for a climatic battle in a yard full of boxcars.

The big action set pieces are numbing and unoriginal as Sever, in her flowing black coat and long hair, runs around Vancouver carrying guns, rifles and shoulder-mounted missile launchers. However, what sinks these scenes is the lazy editing, which never absorbs the viewer, leaving them detached from the action. Also, Don Davis' score sounds like a generic rock temp track and in no way matches his fabulous music for "The Matrix." Banderas isn't bad, doing what he can with Alan McElroy's anemic dialogue, while the lifeless Liu seems to be belatedly auditioning for the role of the Terminatrix in "Terminator 3."

On the slight plus side, the film takes place in Vancouver, which is appreciated only because it's not New York. Scenes of Ecks and Sever fighting on rooftops at least look different. There is one shot worth noting: The camera follows a police officer as he falls off a building and impacts the roof of a car. Otherwise, "Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever" is only for those with the most insatiable fetish for explosions. Starring Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu. Directed by Kaos. Written by Alan McElroy. Produced by Elie Samaha, Chris Lee and Kaos. A Warner Bros. release. Action. Rated R for strong violence. Running time: 91 min

Tags: Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu, Directed by Kaos, Written by Alan, Warner Bros, McElroy, Produced by Elie Samaha, Chris Lee, Kaos, Action

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