Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever

It seems that many new actions films are being geared towards the misty haze surround the brains of the current PS2 totting utes, more concerned with fiery explosions and loud bangs rather than any meaningful dialogue or storylines. Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever is a slight cut over the rest, but in the end just as throwaway.

Antonio Banderas is Jeremiah Ecks, a washed up, burned out FBI agent who has spent the last seven years mourning the loss of his wife who was killed in a car bomb that was meant for him. Found, unsurprisingly, in a bar slowly drinking himself to death, Ecks is called back into service by his old boss to help in a recent case. The young six year old son of the DIA head chief, Gant (Gregg Henry), has been kidnapped by a former disgruntled agent Sever (Lucy Liu). Ecks is convinced to take the case by one factor alone – his boss tells him that Sever knows where his wife is.

Driven by the revelation that his wife is alive and that Sever is the one person who can tell him where she is, Ecks takes on not only Sever, but also Gant’s forces led by Ross (Ray Park), who are also determined to get Sever and anyone who gets in their way.

With Sever still holding Gants son and Ross kludging his way towards her, Ecks suddenly realises that he is the only one in the game who doesn’t know all the facts, facts which blur allegiances and grey loyalties.

Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever is directed by Wych Kaosayananda (luckily he goes by the handle Kaos) who does what a lot of young directors do when they have weak plot material – fill the empty spaces with slo-mo action and loud explosions. And hope that no one will notice. In between the slo-mo’s and John Woo visuals there are some very cool things to see, like a SWAT member who falls from a five story building onto a police car all in one continuous take – something that hasn’t been seen before. Shame that its one of only ingenious stunts of the film.

As for the performances, the leads seem to be on autopilot, barely registering on the scales, which is a real shame as they are both very capable stars. Lucy Liu, apart from shooting a lot and barely with a hint of emotion, does nothing much. However, as this is exactly what the film requires, it is fun to watch her armed to the teeth, dressed in black taking on all sorts of enemies – even if nothing in the film gives her any acting challenges. Antonio Banderas, who has the role that demands a high level of angst and brooding, coasts through. He doesn’t really seems to know what to do with himself and unfortunately leaves the audience wanting more.

The rest of the cast are nothing to write home about – but in all honesty, they really don’t have a lot to do. Gregg Henry as Gant is a standard rent-a-villain who doesn’t really do much beyond grimace and try to look mean. Ray Park,, who does all the villain running around thing, is slightly better, but end of the day he’s only in the film to ensure that there’s a good martial arts fight at the end. It’s quite an amusing fight as he does all the energetic jumping around and impressive fighting moves, while the ‘actors’ opposite him just really stand around and let him get on with it.

The plot has a good premise, but in the hands of Kaos, the reliance on explosions and loud set action pieces, detracts from it and lowers the films appeal. Perhaps in the hands of a more experienced director the film could have been much more. It’s a shame as Kaos ends up just wasting some great talent and a lot of gunpowder. As proof that this a carton film, there is a very high body count with very practically no gore or blood. Not the worst film, but then again pretty far from being the best.

Score 4/10