“Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever” sways the general public into thinking this is a sort of “Spy vs. Spy” film, but it’s not. It’s not “Ecks vs. Sever”, it’s “Ecks fights Sever for a while and then they become allies when they discover they’re fighting for the same cause”. But that would be a stupid long title, not like “Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever” which is… never mind. The film is chock full of clichés, meaningless violence, lapses in pure logic and plausibility, little to no character emphases, and plot holes galore. Antonio Banderas’ character Jeremiah Ecks is a mix of many, many tired and generic hero elements from previous action movies starring Sylvester Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and a lot of other people.
When he’s tricked back into the agency he worked for, he is found in a dark bar (of all places), sports a mere five o’clock shadow, and is dressed with a suit and trench coat. How convenient. He hasn’t gained any weight, nor is he a drunk, is fully coherent and never loses a step when it comes to his old martial arts techniques which he supposedly hasn’t used in years. When we’re looking at the screen that introduces us to Ecks, we know we’ve seen this type of hero millions of times in other action movies and there’s nothing even remotely interesting about him. This film manages to make even a hot woman look completely dull as Agent Sever played by Lucy Liu, who is identified in the opening as being raised in a “breed of spies who are raised without emotions and are trained to be hidden within the crowd.”
Yet in the opener she takes down the entire Canadian police force and blows up stuff. A lot of stuff. Sever is supposed to be a villain. Or is she? I could never understand who was the villain in this mess. She kills a lot of people, but when someone declares “She’s a killer”, Ecks replies, “No, she’s a mother.” Oh sure, disregard the masses of people she’s brutally murdered and let her disappear into the shadows because… she’s a mother. The movie takes giant leaps of logic and plausibility by featuring these nonsensical and terrible chase and shooting sequences. At one point, Sever, “the stealthy spy” engages in an all out shooting spree in a mall. We never see any of the shoppers get shot, nor are there bodies throughout the mass explosions and shooting.
At one point, there’s a high speed chase on a highway where cars tumble and roll, people get shot at, and there’s an explosion from a cannon. But where’s the innocent victims that were killed? Can you hear that? That’s my eyes rolling. The main “Villain” is Agent Gant (Gregg Henry), a man whose intentions seem noble, but underneath is developing a weapon in which, when a dart is shot into someone, little microbes inject into the blood and cause heart attacks and strokes… nice to see our tax dollars hard at work, eh folks? I had high hopes that this film wouldn’t be as bad as everyone says it is, and it’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. I really liked Ray Park’s awesome role as the lead henchman in Gant’s infantry as he stalks Ecks and Sever and keeps everything in check. It’s too bad he never makes enough movies. Talisa Soto’s purpose is never fully explained in the movie and serves no role other than whining about her kidnapped son, and being involved in a weird death plot that made no sense whatsoever.
Said plot also had giant crater-sized plot holes that left me scratching my head and screaming at the incredibly annoying way it went about it. Inevitably, the movie takes a plunge into the mediocre with the obligatory “one on one” with both heroes and villains fighting in a deserted warehouse/factory that spews steam and fire, and the occasional plot twist which means nothing in the climax. I can safely say this movie is too good for Sylvester Stallone’s standards and the whole film feels like a low-budget action flick you’ll see late night on one of the movie channels on cable and it’s just as bad and has all been done before. Liu and Banderas are wasted in a film that felt like a cheesy low budget action flick, leaving a sour taste with plot holes galore, clichés, senseless violence, and an incoherent script to top it all off.