Directed by: Kaos
Written by: Alan B. McElroy
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu, Gregg Henry, Ray Park, Talisa Soto
It appears that I should have a section of movies that I grew up with and while the popular consensus believes them to be bad, I enjoy them. It happened once already with Bad Company and it will once again with Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. Reader, you must understand, my mother had a collection of about 40 DVDs that I would just continually rewatch until I discovered that other movies could be consumed. My enjoyment for this film cannot be explained, but it certainly cannot be classified as a good piece of art.
After leaving the FBI force when his wife died in a car bomb, Ecks (Antonio Banderas) gets information that she may still be alive, but must help on one last mission. This mission would require him to find this nanotechnology, which is embedded into a young boy kidnapped by Sever (Lucy Liu). The boy had this technology inserted into his body to get past customs by his evil father, Robert Gant (Gregg Henry).
What a plot synopsis for a movie I will never forget. What other film would have Antonio Banderas taking on Lucy Liu where the trailer gives away the entire film? I think Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever deserves respect just for that. They knew right away that this film had no plot whatsoever, so the proper resolution came to adding explosions in every scene to make it extreme. It became the test of how much they can try to wow the audience with all of this noise before you realize that the actual story on display may not be worth the time.
As much as I inexplicably enjoy this film, there’s too much not to laugh at in the process. I understand the work brought into the film and how much effort was put into making it a feature film, so it’s all done in good fun. A major issue of the film comes from how it embodies everything that plagued films from the 2000s. Whether it be a terrible soundtrack or just an overuse of blue, there was no reason for this film to fall into those trappings. The plot feels so incredibly convoluted and cruel in a way that does not make sense. I’m not going to sit here and defend the FBI, but a former boss tries to hold the location of the Ecks’s wife as bait for him to get involved in a battle with a killing machine. I cannot fathom a place where someone claiming to care for a former employee with this information would then only provide if they take on a suicide mission. I understand the plot needed something to kickstart Ecks’s motivation, but there had to be other, much better options than this.
Antonio Banderas does not get the respect he deserves and he treated this material so seriously and ended up being the best part of it. He seemed to be the only one because everyone else knew exactly what they got themselves into. Bless him though, because the grizzled look works and by being the only one actually trying to do something artistic, he comes out looking the best. Whether it be from his nifty collection of trench coats or the dark pain that he obviously needs to battle, he presents a character in need of redemption. Banderas picks up on it and makes Ecks a character worth caring for.
Lucy Liu did not get the same treatment and her character just became this emotionless killing machine. I will give her credit, she was quite ruthless and looked extremely menacing with her stunt work and weaponry. It makes for the battles between Ecks and Sever, as promised by the title, something to look forward to. Nonetheless, she brought what she needed physically to the role and did what she could with the rest.
I will forever find some enjoyment in Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. It’s an easy task for me because I acknowledge its shortcomings and what has famously made it the highest-reviewed 0% movie on Rotten Tomatoes and a box office bomb. Even with that distinction, it gets far too much hate. I can rattle off hundreds of other films that are much worse. If you enjoy yourself some mindless explosions and a nice fight sequence or two between Banderas and Liu, then I recommend giving this movie a try.