Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is a 2002 American action-spy thriller film starring Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu; produced by Andrew Stevens' Franchise Pictures and directed by Wych Kaosayananda (under the pseudonym of "Kaos"). Liu and Banderas play opposing secret agents who are supposedly enemies, but team up during the movie to fight a common enemy. The film was widely panned by critics, and is often listed among the worst movies ever made. The film was also a box office bomb, recouping just over $19.9 million of its $70-million budget.
It's style and how it was presented has been noted as referencing other Die Hard scenario films. Lucy Liu's deadly character Sever for instance dresses and acts similarly to the female assassin in the 1999 South Korean action film Swiri and much of the action scenes mocks post-Matrix and John Woo type films brought on by the success of 1992's Hard Boiled.
Returning home with his mother Vinn (Talisa Soto) from a trip to Berlin, Michael Gant, the son of Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) director Robert Gant (Gregg Henry), is kidnapped, his armed security entourage wiped out by the attacker, ex-DIA agent Sever (Lucy Liu). FBI agent Jeremiah Ecks (Antonio Banderas), left after his wife Rayne was killed in a car bombing. His old boss, Julio Martin (Miguel Sandoval), asks him to return to investigate the Gant case. He claims that Rayne is still alive, and that he will give Ecks information on her whereabouts if he helps take down Sever. Ecks agrees, and realizes she must be one of the orphan Chinese girls the adopted by the DIA, which trains them as covert operatives and assassins with "no fear, no conscience and no morality." Meanwhile, Gant executes the only surviving member of Michael's entourage, before ordering his elite agents led by his right-hand man A. J. Ross (A.K.A. "The Prince of Darkness") (Ray Park) to pursue Sever and rescue Michael.
Ecks joins Martin and CSIS agent Harry Lee (Terry Chen) in Vancouver, B.C., where Sever seems to be hiding out. Ecks learns that Gant stole an experimental weapon codenamed Softkill, a nanomachine which operates in the human circulatory system and can cause heart attacks in its victims at will. Gant had implanted Softkill in his son Michael in order to covertly smuggle it into North America. Ross and his men surround Sever in a shopping plaza, but she gains the upper hand and wipes out Ross's forces in a lengthy gun battle. Sever shoots Martin, and Ecks pursues Sever on foot, climaxing with a hand-to-hand fight that's abruptly cut off when Ross's men fire at them with an M60 machine gun, giving Sever a chance to escape.
Ecks is arrested by Vancouver PD under the false pretense that he killed Martin. While being transported by police, his convoy is attacked by Sever, who ends up freeing him in the process. After a lengthy car chase, Sever tells Ecks that she's on his side and gives him the location of his wife. Ecks meets Rayne at an aquarium. It's here revealed that Rayne's "death" was orchestrated by Gant, so that Rayne would think Ecks died and vice verca. Rayne then became Gant's wife under the name Vinn. Since Gant had facilitated a mission that ended in Sever's family killed, it was initially believed that her kidnapping of Michael was for revenge. However, Rayne reveals that Michael is actually Ecks's biological son, and Sever's kidnapping was likely for his protection.
Ecks, Rayne, and Sever go to the latter's secret underground bunker in an abandoned trainyard, and Rayne is reunited with Michael. Gant and Ross arrive with an army of heavily-armed DIA agents, and a massive battle ensues. Ecks and Sever eventually gain the upperhand, and Sever kills Ross in a hand-to-hand fight in the bunker. Gant attempts to retrieve the Softkill in Michael's arm, but is surprised when he finds it isn't there. Sever kills Gant using a Softkill-loaded bullet, and escapes as the police arrive. The film concludes with Ecks and Sever looking over the sea and Ecks thanking Sever for reuniting him with his family.
- Antonio Banderas as FBI Agent Jonathan "Jeremiah" Ecks
- Lucy Liu as Agent Sever
- Gregg Henry as DIA Director Robert Gant / Agent Clark
- Ray Park as A. J. Ross
- Talisa Soto as Rayne Gant / Vinn Ecks
- Miguel Sandoval as Julio Martin
- Terry Chen as Agent Harry Lee
- Roger R. Cross as Zane
- Sandrine Holt as Agent Bennett
- Steve Bacic as Agent Fleming
- Tony Alcantar as Edgar Moore
- David Palffy as Sleazy Man
- David Pearson as VPD Officer
- Norm Sherry as Ross Sniper
- Brian Drummond as VPD Officer
- Joel Kramer as Bus Driver
- John DeSantis as Bus Guard #2
- Charles Andre as Agent Addis
- Mike Dopud as DIA Agent
- Jonathan Kelly as the Da Feiji technology teacher
Ballistic was universally panned by critics and has a rare 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 115 reviews with an average rating of 2.6 out of 10, meaning that not a single critic gave it a positive review. The critical consensus states "A startlingly inept film, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever offers overblown, wall-to-wall action without a hint of wit, coherence, style, or originality." In March 2007, the film was ranked #1 among "The Worst of the Worst" movie list. The film also has a score of 19 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 26 critics indicating "overwhelming dislike".
Roger Ebert gave the film half a star out of four and later listed it on his most hated movies list and said of the film ""Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever" is an ungainly mess, submerged in mayhem, occasionally surfacing for cliches, overloaded with special effects and explosions, light on continuity, sanity and coherence. There is nothing wrong with the title "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever" that renaming it "Ballistic" would not have solved. Strange that they would choose such an ungainly title when, in fact, the movie is not about Ecks versus Sever but about Ecks and Sever working together against a common enemy—although Ecks, Sever and the audience take a long time to figure that out."
Along with the critical mauling the film was also a massive box office bomb. In 2,705 theaters it grossed $7,010,474, with an average of $2,591 per theater and ranking #4 at the box office. The film ultimately earned $14,307,963 domestically and $5,616,070 internationally for a total of $19,924,033, well below its $70 million production budget.
The soundtrack includes these tracks:
- "Main Title"
- "Name of the Game"
- "Smartbomb" [Plump Dj's Remix]
- "Heaven Scent" [Original Mix]
- "The Flow"
- "I Think of You" [Screamer Remix]
- "Hell Above Water"
- "I Need Love"
- "The Aquarium"
A Game Boy Advance first-person shooter, Ecks vs. Sever, was based on a very early version of the film script and, story wise, is almost nothing like the final rewrite. It was released in 2001, before the film. It received very positive reviews and received a 9/10 on IGN. The game was considered an impressive technological feat on the GBA and was accepted more than the film itself. A second game created after the premiere, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, which follows the plot-line from the film, is considered a sequel to the first game.
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