Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)
Not quite The Worst Movie Ever Made, but still pretty harsh.
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is about a kid who gets kidnapped by a rogue assassin, so his dad – who happens to be a total dick and is probably up to some very shady shit – pulls out all the stops to get him back. Investigating the case is a former FBI agent with a permanent five o’clock shadow who gets pulled out of retirement by his former boss even though the guy’s a fuckin’ mess because his wife died in a car explosion…or so he thinks. So he picks up his shotgun, tracks down this assassin who’s lighting up everyone and everything in sight, and eventually starts fighting alongside her as he realizes that everything is not quite as it seems.
Wild stuff, I know.
So people really freakin’ hate this movie, huh? Even if it did manage to avoid getting nominated for a single Razzie Award back in ’02, the general vibe about this bad boy can more or less be summed up by Rotten Tomatoes naming it the single worst movie of the past decade. Yup, Baby Genuises 2 doesn’t have shit on this, and even though I’ve only got one foot in the bandwagon, I can understand the hate.
For starters, it’s directed by a guy named “Kaos”. His full name is Wych Kaosayananda (which is also a bummer), but since the words “DIRECTED BY KAOS” turn up during the opening credits, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume that this is a self-given nickname we’re dealing with. Suspect directing skills aside, that right there is strike number one.
On top of that, it’s written by the same guy who gave us such winners as Spawn, Tekken, and The Marine. His name is Alan B. McElroy, and I don’t know how he still has a job let alone managed to impress some fat cat to the point where they green lit the three Wrong Turn movies he penned, but apparently he’s blackmailing the right people. Whatever the reason, strike two.
I don’t know if anyone out there’s actually had to sit through Spawn or ever tried to give themselves a nickname that uses a “K” in place of a “CH”, but I can personally attest to the former, and that was mighty rough. As you can probably imagine, combining these two cinematic snafus and giving those responsible free access to more pyrotechnics than China on New Year’s along with the perk of making up the story as they go makes for an experience of truly magical proportions.
As far as the story goes, this thing is all loopholes. You can try to follow it, it’s a free country, but just giving you fair warning that it won’t come together no matter how you try to spin it. The explanations that McElroy provides to some of the plot’s bigger mysteries don’t make sense, the relationships amongst all of these characters and what motivates their actions throughout don’t make sense, and for what could have been a really straightforward, mindless shoot-em-up, it’s pretty surprising how much of it doesn’t make sense. But at least the dialogue is fine. Nothing special, but nothing that had me rolling my eyes either.
As far as the directing goes, this thing is all explosions. Looks like Kaos was a big fan of The Matrix and came to the conclusion that if you blow stuff up a lot and go heavy on the slow-mo, everything will be awesome. In Kaos’ defense, every action movie was a knock-off of The Matrix from ’99 to, oh, let’s just say ’06, but all the same, it gets old fast and doesn’t make for anything memorable. Doesn’t help that the soundtrack might as well be called NOW! That’s What I Call A Rave either. Not only does the volume get jacked up like crazy as soon as the bullets start flying, but the music is just awful and continually switches from deafeningly techno to unnecessarily epic. Such a pain in the ass having to lower and raise the volume on my TV by 20 notches every five minutes so I could both hear the dialogue and prevent my neighbors from calling the cops about the shootout in my apartment, but even if that hadn’t been an issue, the music would still exist.
And the acting is whatever.
Antonio Banderas is fine, I guess (blame it on my love for Desperado). The problem in this department mainly lies with Lucy Liu and the way her facial expressions range from Old Navy mannequin to Old Navy mannequin the entire time she’s on-screen. Not that she has much to work with, but it’s pretty wild how uninterested she is by all the guns she gets to shoot.
Look, there’s no getting around that Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever sucks. That much is crystal. But then again, there are worse movies out there and the fact that no one is going into this with the expectation of a watching a good movie ultimately leaves zero room for disappointment. It was one thing to sit through Gigli and have my mind blown by how abysmal it ended up being, but this wasn’t on that same level. Not trying to be a naysayer or anything because I refuse to be That Guy who thinks Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever doesn’t deserve the bad rap that planet Earth’s given it, I just think it’s far more instantly forgettable than it is a masterpiece of awfulness. Left me totally indifferent more than anything else. If it had been unintentionally funny, there might have been cause to warrant a “so bad it’s good” recommendation, but as is, it’s simply a bang-up way to zone out for 91 minutes.
So strike three for anyone who’s still counting.