Volume 96, Issue 15
Tuesday, September 24, 2002

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MOVIE REVIEW: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever
Where are the Mounties?

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu, Gregg Henry
Directed by: Wych Kaosayananda

By Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever claims to be an action movie, but it is really one big slap in the face to Canadian law enforcement.

Over the course of the film, former FBI agent Jeremiah Ecks (Antonio Banderas), former Defense Intelligence agent Sever (Lucy Liu) and their adversaries lay waste to a good section of Vancouver and kill dozens of people, yet there isn't a Mountie to be seen. Where is Pierre Trudeau with the War Measures Act when you need him?

No matter. Ballistic isn't the kind of movie that requires a great deal of thought.

The story features Ecks coming out of retirement to help the FBI with their latest project: the retrieval of a microscopic killing device that can be injected into people and then activated to cause strokes.

The thief is Gant (Gregg Henry), a corrupt DIA official who has hidden this gizmo inside of his young son to get it to North America. Gant, however, doesn't count on his son being kidnapped by Sever, a former ace agent of Gant's who is out for revenge after Gant killed her family. Ecks and Sever begin the film as adversaries, but eventually join forces against the greater threat of Gant.

The movie is directed by Thailand's Wych "Kaos" Kaosayananda, who is making his American debut. Kaos is obviously trying to mimic the Hong Kong action genre by adding artistic flourishes to fight scenes, but too often, he crosses the fine line between being stylish and being pretentious. There is way too much slow motion camera work, but considering how poor the overall movie is, any innovative direction would have been as big a waste of time as pearls on swine.

The main problem with the film is that there just isn't anything to it. Ballistic is based on the Ecks vs. Sever first-person shooter video game and, like the game, the movie is just a bunch of one-dimensional characters mindlessly killing each other. At least three times in the film, Ecks suffers what should be fatal injuries, but he gets up and keeps going with few ill effects.

Acting is basically thrown out the window in a movie like this, since there is only so much actors can do with such weak material. Antonio Banderas phones in his entire performance – perhaps he was too busy thinking of ways to fire his agent to worry about acting. Lucy Liu has only a handful of lines, since she plays Sever as a strong but silent bad-ass – but the problem is that Sever is too bad-ass. Since she kills and/or endangers so many innocent people in the process of screwing over Gant, it is hard to buy Sever as a heroine.

Ballistic is nothing more than the latest in a long line of poor movies based on video games. The producers should have realized that nothing good can come of a film that can't even compare favourably to Mortal Kombat.


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