Rewind Review: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever

If there is one thing that Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever has taught me, it’s that you should never lose hope on your dreams. After all, if this movie was able to get past every single step of the filmmaking process to see it be made and released to theaters upon unsuspecting movie goers, then anything is possible so never give up hope.

This film was originally unleashed upon the public in 2002 and has no doubt be infesting discount DVD bins ever since. The early aughts was a very weird time for action movies as everything was trying to be The Matrix, complete with slow-motion, wire fights and soundtracks filled with nu-metal. Ballistic is also no doubt trying to be like the that except despite it’s 70 million dollar budget, it does so the way a first year film student would try to copy The Matrix. Actually that might be an insult to first year film students.

I’m going to spoil the plot of the movie because; a) it came out 20 years ago, and b) you should never under any circumstances watch this anyway. Antonio Banderas plays Ecks, a former FBI agent brought back into the fold to help apprehend Lucy Liu’s Sever, a former DIA agent who has kidnapped the son of DIA director Robert Gant. The two of them eventually team up because it turns out that Gant stole a nanobot weapon and implanted it in his son to smuggle it into the country. Oh and it turns out his son is actually Ecks’ son and his wife is Ecks’ wife whom Ecks thought was dead. None of it makes much any sense. It’s not even like Gant was holding Ecks’ wife against her will because as soon as he founds this out, he doesn’t go to rescue her, he meets her at an aquarium in public where she explains it all in and then they just leave together. How this script was greenlit is beyond me. I can only assume it was either some form of nepotism, a money laundering scheme, or a Producers style scam to make the worst thing possible. Also despite every character being an American government agent, the film takes place in Vancouver. Again, none of it makes any sense.

Action movies can usually be forgiven for dumb, nonsensical plots provided the action is good. Ballistic however features action that is just as terrible as it’s script. This film’s idea of action is a car exploding every five minutes. That’s really all there is other than a couple of horribly choregraphed fights, a tenseless shoot-out that feels like Michael Scott directed and a motorcycle chase so boring that it could put the most coked up person in the world to sleep. Even worse is that the film uses slow motion frequently but never for anything that remotely warrants it. During the aforementioned shoot-out for example, Lucy Liu stops firing as she moves to take cover and that’s what gets put in slow motion. The shoot out is pathetic and nothing in it deserves slow motion but if anything should be, it should be her shooting, not the 2 second break where she isn’t. Say what you will about Zack Snyder’s overuse of slow motion but at least when he uses it, he does it for moments that look cool.

This movie wants to be cool so badly. In fact, it’s so desperate to be cool, that whenever a character is not speaking, there’s industrial music playing. And that’s not an exaggeration. Literally, any time no one is talking. Whether it’s during an action sequence, or if it’s just a character walking, or if it’s an establishing shot. Any time there’s no dialogue, you’ll be hearing some awful industrial music. Granted, it’s not much better when people do speak because the dialogue is so awful and the performances seem like everyone in this was being held against their will. Antonio Banderas is a magnificent actor, he was even able to give a great performance in the bad Uncharted movie despite being underutilized but not here. I don’t want to say it doesn’t seem like he’s trying but he definitely doesn’t want to be there and it shows. This is the performance of a man who is contemplating every life choice that lead him to this movie. Meanwhile Lucy Liu gives the performance of a robot and I don’t mean like a terminator, I mean it feels like they replaced Lucy Liu with a Lucy Liu robot. There are no emotions in her performance, no inflection in her voice and no soul behind her eyes.

There’s a scene early in the movie that sums up the experience of watching Ballistic quite well. In it, Gant gives one of his henchmen a gun and tells him to shoot himself. The henchman points the gun at Gant instead, pulls the trigger and it inexplicably fires backwards into the henchman’s head. I rewound this 3 times and there is no other explanation. The other henchmen in the scene is standing off to the side and has no gun in his hand. We see the trigger be pulled and the gun go off. It fired backwards. Why? Because that henchman is the viewer and the gun is Ballistic; an inexplicable, nonsensical, backwards attempt of a movie.

Rating: The Fact That This Exists in the Same Medium as Paddington 2 is Proof That There is No God

This review used our old rating system, The Paddington Scale. To learn more please read this post

Published by Matt Fresh

30% Water, 70% James Bond movies. Matt is a writer, gamer, film enthusiast & silly person. The winner of various fictitious awards, he's fluent in English & pop culture references.

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