“There are no innocent people, you know that, only killers and victims,” says the lead villain in Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. That amoral sentiment seems appropriate for a movie that is based on a video game. Video games are all about action – fighting, shooting, or just moving from point A to point B. But watching someone else play a video game isn’t very interesting – and neither is this movie.
R for Strong violence
The villain, Gant (Gregg Henry), is some kind of super assassin for an organization known only in this movie as “the DIA.” His latest tool for killing is a microscopic robot which can destroy a body from the inside.
At the start of the film, Gant’s young son is kidnapped by Sever (Lucy Liu), a rogue DIA agent who has her own reasons for wanting this new technology. The FBI is interested in these developments and the only man for the job is Ecks (Antonio Banderas), a disillusioned former agent who spends his free time in bars, moping about the death of his wife.
With the various characters’ motives established (or at least hinted at), the movie becomes an excuse for shootouts, explosions and some occasional hand-to-hand fighting.
For a movie with such relentless action, Ecks vs. Sever is strangely devoid of excitement. Early on, Sever, who’s been trained since infancy to be a soulless assassin, gets into a lengthy shootout with Gant’s men. When it becomes clear that she’s going to get through it without even a scratch, the sequence becomes tedious. And since she seems to be a villain at this point in the movie, there’s no one to root for, no one to care about.
The big booming explosions that occasionally fill the screen don’t help. We never see any preparation, there’s no tension, no possibility that the explosion might not go off as intended. The characters simply push buttons (like in a video game) and suddenly something blows up. There is no drama or excitement in that.
In a year of spy movies (XXX, plus sequels to Spy Kids, James Bond and Austin Powers), Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is a weak entry in a competitive field. It has no redeeming qualities to set it apart. It has no hip energy. No exotic locales. Just a cheap blue-black look, a soulless heroine, and an abject hero. In short, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is a waste of time.