April 2, 2003 -- "Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever" is one of the strangest names for a movie you are ever likely to see and one of the worst movies to be released in 2002. According to the Rotten Tomatoes website, which tracks various movie reviews, "Ballistic" scored a perfect 0. Out of 93 reviews, not one was positive. Only one other film got a perfect 0 on the list, the disastrous 2002 remake of "Pinnochio," a critical and box office flop of epic proportions. "Ballistic" rated third on the Rotten Tomatoes list of the worst movies of the year, behind "Rollerball" and "Bad Company."
"Ballistic" stars Antonio Banderas of "Frida" as Agent Jeremiah Ecks, and Lucy Liu of "Charlie's Angels" as the mysterious, undefeatable, indestructible agent Sever. Given the title, one would expect a long buildup to an eventual climactic fight scene, but this never materializes. Instead, the story is a simple one about revenge, and there is no real final battle between Ecks and Sever. This is one of the film's many flaws. Ecks and Sever are both pitted against an enemy who is an unworthy opponent.
The villain, a spy master named Gant, (Gregg Henry of "Femme Fatale") is a character of little weight. He looks like a punk who needs a whole army to protect him. His only strength is his ruthlessness. What the movie needed was a more impressive villain, like Kingpin, portrayed by Michael Clarke Duncan in "Daredevil," a man who is clever, evil and physically imposing. The fight sequences in the film are fairly well staged by Philip Tan ("Bloodsport 2"), but there was a real problem with opponents after the initial fights between Ecks and Sever. Once those are done, there are no opponents in the film who can seriously challenge either of these two. A martial arts film such as this depends on the quality and drama of its fight scenes. The drama falls off fairly early in the film, and is never really regained, despite the cheap dramatic trick of placing a child in danger.
There is a whole subplot about Ecks' family that doesn't work from a dramatic standpoint, in part, because it isn't very believable. The actors also fail to really sell this part of the story. It is a flimsy gimmick. On the whole, the film is not badly directed by Kaos (Wych Kaosayananda of Thailand), and the actors aren't bad. It is the weak script that is the culprit in this film. An action movie, particularly a martial arts film like this one, doesn't have to be particularly well-written to be entertaining, but it can't afford to be boring and anticlimactic. This one is. This movie rates a D.
I saw this film on DVD (I rented it at Albertson's, a local grocery store that has a $1 rental special every Monday. Many titles at this store are of the putrid "full screen" variety, but this particular DVD was widescreen.). The DVD is in widescreen anamorphic format, and it includes a theatrical trailer, a TV spot, the "HBO First Look: The Making of Ballistic" featurette and a challenge game. Available audio tracks are Dolby Digital 5.1 (TM) French and English. Subtitles are in English, Spanish and French. The DVD has average features, not minimal, but hardly robust. It rates a C.
Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.