Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)

Director: Kaos
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu

“Some women buy shoes.”

Well, they did it, you guys. They finally gave action movies the fatal enema to end all enemas. That’s the only way to even describe this. I mean…what the hell do you want from me? This movie is pretty much a tube up the ass of the genre and a subsequent explosion of everything that made it good or even slightly tolerable. And that doesn’t even really begin to describe how bad this actually is. It’s just the tip of the iceberg!

I have no idea where to even begin with this. This movie…was a joke. That has to be it. This is some kind of huge practical joke on Hollywood, or on the producers, or on the people who wasted their money to go see it. It’s so inept and so badly written and directed on every single level that it’s…flat out impossible to suggest that anyone would ever let it out of the gates once they saw it. Maybe there was blackmail involved. Maybe the director got the Hollywood producers drunk off their asses before they let them watch this movie. I don’t know, but I sure hate whoever unleashed Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever on the world. This is one of the big ones, people. This movie was voted the number one worst movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes, and pretty much got panned universally across the board. Is it really that bad? Frankly, I think that’s a stupid question to even consider at this point in the review, don’t you?

Okay, our movie starts off with our credits laid over an overly long pan over a lit-up city at night with a crappy rock song underneath. We then switch to a woman named Vinn taking her son home, when she is suddenly called up by some guy who demands that she bring her son to his father, who is a rich tycoon of some sort named Gant. Gant’s lackey gives her a few seconds to process this and protest the seizing of her son right after he got back from his vacation (which is never explained), and then he promptly forces the kid out with his bare hands and takes him into another car.

The other car goes down the road and is then subjected to a flurry of big explosions in this very populated city area by a mysterious woman dressed like a rejected Sith lord or something. After a lot of really hokey, unbelievable stunts, she kidnaps the kid to her little Batcave in a hidden location, where she puts him in a cage. This is the titular character Sever, played by Lucy Liu…astonishing what kinds of roles some actors’ agents get for them, isn’t it?

We then switch to our other main character played by Antonio Banderas. His name is Ecks, and he is currently drinking in a bar, presumably to forget his parents’ horrible choice of a name for him. Seriously, Ecks? Sever? Gant? This is sounding like someone played a Crossword puzzle the wrong way to pick the characters’ names. Anyway, he fights a few goons who approach him, and then sits down with an old guy named Martin, who he apparently knows from his past. Will any of it ever be explained? No! That’s giving this movie too much credit.

So this Martin guy brings Ecks in to give him a job to hunt down the woman who kidnapped Gant’s son, because apparently, she might have a clue as to the whereabouts of Ecks’ missing wife…yeah, that one came out of nowhere, didn’t it? There’s some really rushed bullshit about this missing technology they have to get back before Gant uses it to make the perfect assassin, or something, but who cares about that? WE HAVE ANOTHER HORRIBLE ACTION SCENE TO SHOW!

Yes, the action scenes in this movie are quite a spectacle. Just watch as they take the old ‘improbable action hero manages to outwit and out-fight three dozen mooks who are all shooting at her but yet she emerges without a scratch’ idea to its utmost stupidity and most enraging nadir ever. I am serious; there are numerous instances in this where Liu is standing around that the bad guys could have easily captured her or rendered her immobile. But I guess they’re just…in so much awe of how awesome she is that they can’t do anything! This action scene is just all kinds of wrong. The angles make all of the fighting look boring, they put a bunch of shitty rap music behind the action and there’s just no tension to it. Why should I care about this character? What reason do I have to care if she makes it out alive? Nothing. But of course she’s always going to anyway, because she’s invincible. Why? Because this movie sucks. That’s the only reason.

The basic “plot” of this segment is that Gant’s men are trying to bring her in without killing her, to find out where her son is. At the same time, Ecks is on her trail to try and find his wife, and also get back that important piece of technology from her, too. God, this is so tangled that I’m not even sure the actors themselves know what’s going on. Seriously, when your actors look confused as they deliver the dialogue, it’s time to get a fucking new script, guys.

So we drag out the unnecessary and bland action scenes for a long time before it finally ends with Martin getting shot by Sever and Ecks fighting her on the roof and getting his ass royally handed to him. Ecks goes through a pointless scene with his Asian partner who is apparently in the movie for no reason as he does nothing throughout the entire duration, and nothing is established in this scene except that Sever and Ecks know one another. Which was kind of established before when they fought on the roof a few scenes ago, wasn’t it? If you think you’re going to get any explanation for how they know each other, why they’re supposedly rivals or what their history is, well, you’re wrong. The movie just…continues on and leaves the audience in the dark.

Was there some kind of a prequel to this movie that we missed? Is this the sequel to something else that we never saw? No? Then start making more sense, movie, before you drive me crazy!

And even when you think that the one thing that could possibly save this mess of plot convolutions and nonsensical action, the dialogue, could possibly clear any of this up…it doesn’t. Like this scene, where Gant pulls his crony aside to talk about Ecks’ escape from prison. He asks Gant why Ecks is so dangerous, a fact which I don’t think the audience knows either, and Gant just tells him he can’t ask that. Vinn asks him how he knows that the mysterious kidnapper (Sever) won’t hurt their son, and he just says “Trust me.”

…there’s no communication! Talk to each other, you morons! Exchange vital information! What’s holding you back? What’s the big deal? What kind of horrible writer could actually put together a script like this? What kind of hunchbacked inbred could possibly think this script would work?

No, you know what? I got it. I know what happened here! Some fat slob dropped his pork taco with extra bean sauce on the pages of the script, ruining half of them forever. Instead of taking the time to rewrite the script, they just decided to go ahead and film a movie without half of the script. Everything in this movie is so vague and so in the dark about every element of the plot that I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. They just cover up every potential lead to a plot with a character waving it off with one hand and going, “No. We won’t let you discover anything that might let you relate to the characters or enjoy this movie. We’re just going to let you keep suffering as we hide any kind of plot from you!” Insert evil laughter here.

The pattern of this movie pretty much goes: action scene, dramatic scene, action scene, dramatic scene. Rinse and repeat like you just swallowed crocodile piss, because it never gets better. There’s one scene where Ecks has been arrested for allegedly shooting Martin (…they arrested him because they thought he shot the guy who employed him in the first place? Huh?), and he’s being transported to another location when Sever gets up on a bridge and blows up the prison bus with a rocket launcher. Ecks escapes from the bus and somehow gets hold of a tommy gun which was apparently stored on the bus for its good storage room? More lightheaded action ensues. Sever seems to pull out new guns from every possible opening in her clothes, to the point where you wonder if she has some whole new dimension under there, an infinite storage space.

In another scene, Ecks finally reunites with Vinn, who was his wife all along…coincidental? Yes. Yes it is. The movie…seems to be trying to show us their back story, but honestly I just don’t get it. So they were together but then Ecks had to go undercover, so she married Gant instead? Gant…found out and tried to kill Ecks by blowing up some cars in the middle of their yard? And now they can’t be together anymore? Huh? What is this movie trying to get across? Storytelling, writers! Use coherent storytelling. It’s ad-libs; that’s what it is. They want us to just…fill in our own blanks to make sense of their garbled mess of a movie. Also, before I move on, can you believe that the two of them reunited in an aquarium, with blue lighting and the sea animals swimming around them and everything? Isn’t that just so magical? Ugh.

So after that they run into Sever, who tells them to get in her car, where they trade some more ambiguous dialogue that reveals nothing…surprised? “How do you know about Michael?” Ecks asks about the kidnapped son. She just looks at him cryptically and says nothing. Need I repeat? COMMUNICATE. And why are they suddenly on the same side? I don’t know; just go with it, it’ll be over faster that way. She takes them to – get this – the underbelly of a state park, where her hideout has been this whole time. So this rogue governmental agent, who apparently has total control over everything and knows every right move to make, decided to hide out this whole time in a place that any random bum could stumble upon? I don’t know; it’s not explained very well. And it turns out that weapon device to turn people into the ultimate assassin, which was only given about a minute of explanation way at the beginning of the movie, was hidden all along underneath the skin of Vinn and Ecks’ son, who was on vacation with Gant in Europe, who used him as a vehicle to transport it to America. That’s…just stupid. This was never detected by anyone at either airport? How does Gant live with himself at night for doing this to his son? If you're wondering the answers to these questions, well, keep wondering, because we have MORE ACTION SCENES TO FUCK UP!

What follows is quite possibly the worst action scene ever laid down on film. You will be amazed as you stare in awe at the numerous huge, enormous explosions that occur in this old boiler plant place. All of our main characters press buttons as if they’re taking turns at a Nintendo game and things randomly blow up, sending explosions in mushroom clouds soaring sky high above the area. After about the fifth or sixth explosion in less than five minutes, you start to wonder how exactly they haven’t completely leveled this whole area to the ground yet, or at least seriously injured most everyone there. These people should in all rational logic be cinders right now, but I don’t think even one person meets their demise in these disastrous balls of flame and devastation. No bloody dismemberments, nobody on fire and certainly no deaths. I guess they set the explosions to safe-mode.

And they spend so much time focusing the camera on these explosions that it becomes deeply hilarious that even the troopers running around don’t even take a look at them anymore after a while. Once Ecks gets up after being piled on by a collection of steel pipes that must weigh more than him, I was too far gone to even care anymore; what’s the point in pointing out plot holes in a movie that has more of them than actual sound plot threads? This is hopeless; it’s completely insipid. And you know they end on a happy note anyway, with everyone re-uniting, Gant getting killed and juuuust the right touches of mysticism as Sever disappears and leaves Ecks an origami swan to remember her by. Again, magical…and again, ugh.

Heinous, absolutely heinous. How did this get green lighted? What was the intended audience? I don’t even think this movie would work even for the people who make up the very lowest common denominator of movie fans. Not even the fans of the dumbest action movies or the sleaziest comedies could find worth in Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever. I can see why this movie is considered the worst ever – no coherent story, no good action, no character development, a boring pace and a metric load of plot holes. It’s not even enjoyably bad. It’s just plain old bad. A zero star rating is too good for this piece of bloated hack.