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Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever
2002 - R - 91 Mins.
Director: Wych Kaosayananda
Producer: Elie Samaha, Kaos, Chris Lee
Written By: Alan B. McElroy
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu, Gregg Henry, Talisa Soto
Review by: Jake Cremins
   
'Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever' is a movie so bad it feels like a confidence trick. How in the world did Warner Brothers finance and release it, and how were Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu hoodwinked into starring in it? It's impossible to believe that a sentient being could have read this script and agreed to be involved with it. Here is an action movie so appallingly stupid that the story doesn't even provide a reason for it to be an action movie. Everything just grinds to a dead halt every twenty minutes or so while cars chase each other, automatic weapons fire thousands of rounds, and various things explode. All of this is so poorly orchestrated that, despite turning what looks like half of Vancouver into rubble, the action scenes don't affect anything in the story in the least.

Example. An early scene has Sever (Liu), a woman who has kidnapped the son of a big government official, walking through a mall. The mall is surrounded by government agents in various sniper positions, and Sever is being followed as she walks through the mall by men who radio back her whereabouts to the head of the operation. Realizing that something's up, she sows some confusion by firing a gigantic gun, killing several snipers with amazing accuracy while escaping thieir gunfire, killing most of the local police force as they arrive on the scene, blowing up some cars, and even commandeering the enemy's weapons to use against them. All of this happens without the slightest explanation regarding a) how the men determined her whereabouts, b) how they managed to set up such an elaborate arrangement of twenty or thirty gunmen so quickly, without anyone noticing or c) why she took a trip to the mall in the first place. Unfortunately, this is only the warmup in a series of thoroughly senseless scenes that can't be bothered to explain why they're in the movie at all.

But wait; it gets better. All of these government officials are American, as are Sever and Ecks (Banderas--we'll get to his character in a minute). What are they all doing in Vancouver, where they not only work but apparently live, in between blowing up automobiles and cargo trains? We're never told, in a ploy that's used even more poorly than in 'Eddie and the Cruisers II'--that being the movie where a rock star, thought to be dead, was really just living in seclusion in Toronto so that a movie about his comeback could be made with a profitable exchange rate. Here, the movie actually mentions Vancouver by name, and then forgets it. As should we all, I guess.

And then there's Ecks, who starts out the movie being versus Sever, only to have them join forces after the opening half hour in search of his missing wife (she was previously thought to be dead, after the family car exploded in typical 'Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever' fashion). His character is horribly mistreated by the script, which uses a confusing flashback structure to try to keep us from piecing together what really happened with his wife, because what really happened is so astonishingly dumb and illogical that he probably could have found her by opening the Vancouver phone book.

Spoiler warning! Blinding migraine warning, also. What happens is, Ecks' best friend from the FBI (or DIA, I forget which) decided that he wanted Mrs. Ecks all to himself, so he organized a clever scheme in which two cars were blown up in the same parking lot, and Ecks and his wife each thought that the other one died, since they were separated by a wall of flame at the time and couldn't see each other. Ecks retired and crawled into a whiskey bottle, while Mrs. Ecks married the friend, grieving for her husband all the while. As far as I can tell, it is no secret that they are both still alive, except that nobody seems to know that they're <i>both</i> still alive, if you get me. Even though they still live in the same city. Even though neither one is legally dead, and they wouldn't be able to remarry. Even though they must have shared friends and relatives who would have noticed that they were both still alive. Even though someone must have told them that it was a bit odd that their funerals were going on, their being alive and all. Somebody wrote this?

I just realized that I haven't even gotten to the main plot of the movie. Forgive me. See, what happens is that Ecks finally meets up with Sever, they realize that they're both after the same guy (Ecks' conniving friend, who also killed Sever's child by explosion for no apparent reason--this guy gets around). So, the title of the movie thoroughly negated, they join forces and blow up several things in search of the guy, while the guy's kidnapped child sits in a cage and waits for something to happen. Meanwhile it turns out that the child is actually the son of...well, you can guess. What may be less obvious is why the entire plot hinges on a super-secret government weapon in which a microscopic robot is injected into the bloodstream, where it carefully swims to the appropriate place in the body until it's told by remote control to inject poison into the host. As Roger Ebert has already said, "use a poison dart and spend the surplus on school lunches."

If you are a fan of bad movies, let me warn you not to make the same mistake I did, and see 'Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever' because it was one of the very worst movies of 2002. It is no fun at all. It is stupid and senseless and boring and dreary and horrible. It's the kind of movie that would go directly to video in a kinder year, starring Dolph Lundgren and featuring a musical score about as atrocious and cheap as the musical score that is actually used here. That this could not only make its way to a theatrical run but play in the wonderful Loews theater on 44th Street, that one-screen juggernaut that's also shown '2001: A Space Odyssey,' 'Apocalypse Now Redux' and 'Titanic' in the few months previous, can only be the result of an insane lapse in judgment.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Unwatchable.  One of the worst of the year.  Skip it.
  0.5 out of 5 stars

 
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