Nowadays, September is a time for remembrance. It was once just another ordinary month, a month of going back to school and seeing old friends. It has changed into a month of mourning. But one thing hasn't changed, and that is that September is still a month for bad movies. If you thought the title Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever was bad, just wait until you see the movie. Maybe, for once, the studio was actually trying to help out the audience by giving it such a horrible name that people would be deterred.
Ballistic is about an FBI Agent (Antonio Banderas as Agent Ecks) who is hunting down a ruthless secret agent (Lucy Liu as Agent Sever) who has kidnapped a little boy, the son of a corrupt leader of a government agency. This man is also married to the woman who used to be Ecks' wife - however, somehow they both think each other were killed in a car explosion, so that is why they are not married anymore. Of course, the plot is pretty much mute in a movie like this, but unfortunately, director Wych Kaosayananda doesn't know the first thing about how to film action scenes.
They are so different, but it is obvious that Kaosayananda is trying to make a Matrix-style movie, because there is non-stop shooting, complete with slow-motion rollovers and shells landing everywhere. The heroes (it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the two Agents are going to team up against the corrupt guy, making the title completely misleading) dress in black and surrounded by stylized scenes, most of which do not make any sense at all. Ballistic has so many action scenes, that, despite the terrible script (later in the review), bad acting and so forth, it could have been worthwhile had these action scenes been shot properly. Slow-motion stuff in action scenes work sometimes, but there is a time and place for everything. Kaosayananda especially likes to slow things down for Lucy Liu, but he does so long before he reveals that she is indeed a good guy (the previews give it away, but if someone had never seen the previews...); the slow-motion shots glamorize the person, and so at times it seems as though he is glamorizing the villain for killing off hordes of cops. Furthermore, there is very little sense of excitement or intensity; Kaosayananda shoots from a distant and never dives into the action. The motorcycle chase scene says it all; he never gets in from there perspective so we can hear the rev of the motors and see the speed these things are going - it just looks like these cycles are coasting along the streets. I must say I did like the scene where the sniper falls to his death and the camera follows him Hitchcock style until he lands on top of a car, but that was one specific moment, and one that can be seen in the previews.
So the direction sucks, but everything else is not much better. The plot really makes no sense. I am still trying to figure out how the bad guy - his name's Gant by the way - was able to fake the death of both Agent Ecks and his wife at the same time. Even if they did think that the other one had died in the explosion, wouldn't they return to their house, get their belongings, go to a funeral, or whatever? You just can't fool two people into thinking that the other is dead, or if there is a good way, Ballistic never explains itself.
Furthermore, Ecks and Sever are good guys, but they kill hordes of these government agents, who, if I understand correctly, are just working under orders. They just think they're doing government work, yet Ecks and Sever don't seem to care how many of them die.
The acting and the script work hand-in-hand to be downright blasphemous. I am a fan of Antonio Banderas, and I really don't think he does all that bad of a job here, but maybe everyone else is just making him look good. Lucy Liu has acting talent, but she is given so few lines here that she has to resort to one-liners to explain her character. As you go down the chain of importance here, the acting gets worse and worse, maybe with exception to Ray Park (Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace and Toad in X-Men), who continues to show that his presence helps action scenes.
The title is bad and the movie is bad. That's really all you need to know.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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