Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever
(Wych Kaosayananda, 2002)
Review by Kym Taborn, (c) 2002 Kym Taborn
Beware: Spoilers in review
This was the first film I have seen in a long time that really did not have a plot, well at least a coherent one. Visually, it was quite interesting and they were brutally honest in calling Vancouver, "Vancouver" (films often film in Vancouver but call it a different city name even though everyone knows it is Vancouver). And the existence of a Shadow Canadian government whose solution to the infanticide of females in China was to adopt them and transform them into ruthless malleable killing machines (aka assassins) was actually very amusing. It also was refreshing that all the sides that were fighting were governmental agencies. The X-Files would have had a heyday and not need aliens no more had they adopted that approach.
The film otherwise was very hard to follow. They needed more dialogue, more expository scenes, and of course more plot. I had to work overtime constructing everyone's motivations and after a few post-film chats, I discovered I had constructed a better movie than I had seen just by making up stuff to "fill in the chasmatic blanks".
Yes, Lucy Liu's parts where she did not talk (which was abut 90% of her screen time), she really did well. And stole the film. However, when she opened her mouth, or anyone else for that matter, the film's inherent silliness burst forth like a pulsar, up to 8 times a second!
They did work overtime on the explosions and car flights. Ecks really took a lickin' but kept on tickin'! He was run over a few times and shot at like a polecat. At the end of the movie, he should have looked more like Swiss cheese than a tired superagent.
BTW, did you think the No. 2 to Gant was the father of Liu's character's baby? The way they were talking while they were in the process of trying to kill each other sure sounded that way. That made the No. 2 guy even more mega-ickier than I thought before. I did not make the connection at first, but my partner did and he argued quite persuasively for it (and that is an example of how sketchy everyone's motivations and relationships were to each other in this movie -- a main point that thus guy was the father of Liu's child was awkwardly alluded to, like everything thing else in this film.)
It may turn into a cult movie though. It is like watching a movie where ALL the characters are played by Clint Eastwood's Man with no Name. All the dialogue could probably be fit on five pages! Everyone speaks in ambiguous references to actions that are either not shown on screen or inadequately described, visually or verbally. There are lots of explosions. Some great twists on standard mass carnage scenes. And Liu, bless her, did her homework and looks like she actually is as familiar with guns and ordinance as anyone can be. Her marital arts are getting better, and the fights are less over the top than seen in Charlie's Angels. Actually, the martial arts used more kick boxing and street fighting moves than usual movie 'fu.
Okay, I did not want to leave the theater while watching (like I did in that Ya-Ya movie), but I am not planning on buying the DVD. However, when Showtime shows it, and I am doing something else and I want to have TV company, I will probably watch it. What is great about this film, is that it is like John Carpenter's Ghost of Mars: you can start watching it at anytime and still get whatever you are supposed to get from the film. However, having to sit through the whole thing or not doing anything else while watching it, it loses its appeal real fast.