Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu, Gregg Henry, Talisa Soto, Ray Park, Miguel Sandoval
Peter M. Lenkov, Alan McElroy
Your most dangerous enemies are the friends you've double-crossed.
Budget $70 million.
Opening weekend $7.01 million on 2705 screens.
Domestic gross $14.294 million.
Rated R for strong violence.
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
English, Spanish, French
Runtime: 91 min.
Release Date: 12/24/2002
ē HBO First Look: "The Making of Ballistic Ecks and Sever"
ē Line Up Your Sights Our Cool "Know Your Enemy" Challenge
ē Theatrical Trailer
ē Stars/Director/Writer Film Highlights
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Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever (2002)
Reviewed by Blake Kenny (December 18, 2002)
In truth, I seldom watch a DVD and then write the entire review in one sitting. I lead a fairly busy life, so Iím forced to add to my reviews a little at a time, when I can find the time. In fact, itís not to often that I even begin writing the review immediately after viewing the film. If I can find more than 2 consecutive hours in a row within to work, itís usually a miracle. Well tonight was an exception. I just finished watching Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever and had this uncontrollable desire to run over and start typing up this review immediately, while it was still fresh in my mind - and while the putrid stench, that was this film was still lingering in my living room.
My mind is so busy with thoughts of this film right now that I hardly know where to begin. One might start by comparing it to other movies like Battlefield Earth, but that wouldnít be a good comparison because Iím hoping most of you were smart enough to avoid that movie altogether Ė and have hopefully gone that last few years of your life without catching even one regrettable glimpse of that pile. NoÖ I guess Iím just gonna have to stick this one out and give you the straight goods without lining the movie up against the wall like itís unfortunate peers. Sure, I could make comparisons, but I wonít, just mentioning a film like Battlefield Earth probably already has you quaking in your boots as it is - so thereís not much point. Suffice it to say Ė itís that bad! Iím sure Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever wasn't intended to turn out the way that it did, but Iím certain it will forever find itself a home in the bowels of Hollywoodís most forgettable films
Simply put, the plot of this film revolves around family. Sever (Lucy Liu) is a mother and a specially trained agent seeking vengeance on a man for killing her child. Ecks (Antonio Banderas) is another agent who is manipulated out of FBI retirement to do one final job, in exchange for information regarding his wife Ė a woman who be believed to be dead for the past 7 years. Naturally their paths intertwine, and while they seemingly start out as enemies, they inevitable team up against a common foe. Still, as intricate as it might sound, and as desperately as it tries to be sophisticated, this movie simply put Ė has no real plot. No plotline worth a damn anyway. It adds things is like microscopic killing machines and the good old Ďdouble-crossí in an effort to breathe life into the film, but never uses either of these plot devices successfully. This film is a travesty from start to finish Ė and my mind feels violated just for having seen it.
From beginning to end, things are blown apart, guns get fired, cars are smashed up, and Ecks and Sever are in the middle of it all. Standing there, trying to look rough and tough, but instead looking desperate to get this movie over with a quickly as possible so they can move on with their careers. At the end of the day, this is an action movie. The only problem is, itís action for actionís sake. Its as though the film makers went out and destroyed as much stuff as they could, assuming thatís what the audience wants to see.
Admittedly there are times that the audience does want unadulterated destruction, but thereís something to be said for style Ė and where the action in this film is concerned, thereís none. The film has no discernable vision or direction Ė it just happens. Itís like a bad car wreck, you know you shouldnít stare, but you just canít look away. Itís that morbid curiosity. Normally watching stuff get totalled would be just fine with me, but for some reason the action seems dull and redundant, somehow loosing it effectiveness and appeal in the process. Sure it has a few cool shot, like this dude who falls off a building in slow-motion. The camera looks down on him from above as he falls and crushes in the roof of a car. It looked great, but 7 seconds of decent celluloid isnít gonna save thing picture when the rest of it is so weak.
So whatís gonna save thing movie? Star powers! Thatís what! WellÖ maybe not. Even with established celebrities like Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu Ė who seems to be getting bigger with each appearance, this movie still fails to impress. For one, neither character is likeable. Ecks seeks his wife, and inevitably a son he never knew he had, but in the end I didnít give a ratís ass whether he found them or got crushed under the wheels of a speeding bus.
Liuís character of Sever is easily the worst of the two. She stands around in her black, form fitting outfits, posing with her big shiny gun and trying to look intimidating, the problem is, its not working. In fact, sheís almost laughable. She walks around, expressionless, like she is one with the world and her surroundings. Like sheís using her incredible training to feel out her opposition before there even is one. It like sheís trying to be Caine from Kung-Fu. Itís like, she canít act. Granted, I like Lucy Liu as an actress, but this movie was doomed from the start, and her performance does little to help it. Sorry Lucy, thereís always Charlieís Angels 2.
Secondary characters are also pretty weak, although it was cool to see Ray Park in a slightly bigger role than heís played in the past. Best known for his role of Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace Ė I found myself waiting for the inevitable hand to hand fight in which he might be able to show off a little of his martial arts skill. Unfortunately the fight is a bit of a letdown, and considering he was fighting Liuís character of Sever, all I wanted was for him to snap her neck. However, considering he was one of the bad guys, I knew it was never going to happen.
At the end of the day, all I can say is: ďI want that 90 minutes of my life back!Ē Iím just thankful this film doesnít have an audio commentary, as sitting though this pile of trash a second time would be more than I could possibly bare right now.
The DVD Grades: Picture B / Audio B- / Bonus C
Unsurprisingly, Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever features fairly solid picture, but not a perfect picture. The film is presented in itís original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 Ė it has also been enhanced for 16x9 widescreen TVís.
Overall the accuracy and clarity of the filmís image was right where it should be. The picture was sharp, detailed and clean. However, things were not always perfect, as I did detect some fuzziness from time to time that resulted in an image that wasnít as crisp as it should have been. A few other times in noticed some grain as well, but this was reserved primarily to exterior and wide angle night time shots. Sure, these scenes were not very common, but it was surprising none the less to see any problems at all. Especially on a brand new movie.
Colours and contrast were also fairly solid. Colours appeared very natural and black levels were very good for a majority of the presentation. As mentioned above the picture wasnít perfect during darker scenes, which unfortunately make the filmís video score suffer somewhat, but overall it was a fairly good looking film without a whole lot of room for criticism.
As expected, Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1.
While Dolby soundtracks are pretty much standard equipment on new films, I was surprised by how unimpressive this particular one was, especially in light of the fact that the move contains a higher than average amount of gunfire and explosions.
To be honest my disappointment with this track didnít stem from the quality of the sound itself, but from the less than optimal use of the rear surrounds. Even though you can certainly hear sound coming from the back, whether by gunshots, ricochets or what have you, I was a little under whelmed by the overall experience. Adding sound to the back almost felt like an afterthought, and didnít really seem to flow nicely with what I was hearing from the front. In fact, while itís natural for the sound to dominate the front end, I found it to be almost exclusively front end. The overall sound field just wasnít very full and the rear was just too quiet. In scenes when I was expecting a lot of sound from all four corners of the room, I detected only light action in the back.
I also noticed the same to be true for the music. The music, which was absolutely terrible I might add, and did nothing to enhance my enjoyment of the movie, also seemed to largely dominate the front end. In a day and age when music should be filling the room, I didnít hear a whole lot of it coming from the rear.
I donít want to give the impression that rear surround activity was none existent, because that wasnít the case, I just found it to be a rather poor use of 5.1 potential. It was almost as if the 5.1 was added because these days itís expected from a new film, it wasnít added because the film makers wanted to knock your socks off. A good track, but nothing special or altogether memorable.
First up on our list of extras we get cast and crew, which youíve probably seen on other discs. Like those before it, this option allows you to view a few of the films that specific cast and crew members have worked on in the past. These include actors Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu, Gregg Henry, Ray Park, Talisa Soto, Miguel Sandoval and the filmís screenwriter Ė Alan McElroy.
In what can only be described as one of the worst special features Iíve ever seen in my entire life we get Ė Know you Enemy. In this interactive feature you can choose to play as either Ecks or Sever in what can best be described as nothing more than a glorified version of the well known kids game - Rock, paper, scissors. As either Ecks or Sever you can choose to punch, high kick or sweep kick. The computer in retaliation to whatever move you pick, randomly selects a move of its own. Naturally, each move either wins or loses against one of the other 2 moves. The first player to get 3 hits against their opponent wins the match. The worst thing is, this isnít even remotely fun, not even for kids. When you pick a move youíre not shown an animated clip, or a scene from the movie to make the battles a little more exciting. In fact, thereís nothing. The computer just randomly selects it own move and it either say you made a hit, or you were hit. Not flair or bravado what so ever. Dullsville! A sad and pathetic waste of time.
With the only addition to this disc that is actually worth a damn we get a documentary. This segment runs for 13 minutes and 2 seconds and quickly covers a lot of material during its short run time. Not only do we see a lot of clips from the film, but we get to see some behind the scenes material as well. We get to watch a few of the more difficult action scenes come to fruition and the director discusses one of the only scenes in the film that I actually noticed and enjoyed. The scene I mentioned above in which was a man falls straight down in slow motion onto the roof of a car. In the film, this particular scene was outstanding, funny how the director also recognizes its worth, but is completely unaware that the rest of the movie stinks.
We also get some comments from the cast and crew about the project. In particular I was amused by the level of excitement portrayed by Banderas and Liu Ė as they are obviously unaware at the time that this movie would inevitably be a huge bomb.
Last up we get the filmís trailer.
In the end, despite the films decent visuals, acceptable sound and simple set of extras, Iíd have to say, avoid the movie like the plaque. The fact is, that despite being a half decent DVD, the film is absolute rubbish. Trust me, for years to come, no-one is going to be talking about this one at all Ė except perhaps to poke fun at it. Iím beside myself with confusion about this one. I just canít understand how great movies end up going direct to video stores, while junk like this makes it through to the theatre circuit. Itís certainly a mystery to me.
Even with some half decent actors, a bad story is a bad story. Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu look like a pair of actors who realized after they signed their names on the dotted line that they were about to star in a stinker. They look as though they are just going through the motions because they know there is no way out. Itís a shame, because their both capable actors, but they just got themselves mixed up in the wrong project.
Even a director with an intimidating name like ďKaosĒ couldnít save this sucker. I think calling yourself something cool like Kaos is something you should do after people discover you to be an amazing director, not before they discover that youíre just run of the mill.
Short and sweat, it you pick this sucker up, youíre likely to regret it. Heck, Iím trying to think of what to do with this horrible movie as we speak. Itís certainly not worthy of sitting on my DVD rack with the rest of my fine films. Simply put, stay away, this one isnít even worth your rental dollars. At the end of the day I didnít know whether to take this film seriously or laugh at it. It will certainly go down in my personal history as one of the worst film experiences of my life. Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever is Bad! Ė and not in that good way.
Viewer Film Ratings: 2.1818 Stars|| Number of Votes: 22|