Car chases, gunfights, explosions. It must take tremendous talent to take a movie based solely on those elements and render it the most boring, pathetic excuse for an action flick in years. But Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, from Thai director Wych Kaosayananda (who goes by Kaos), is just that.
Even in the worst films of this year — even The Adventures of Pluto Nash — there was one tolerable scene. Joy can’t even be found in the credits signifying that Ballistic’s unholy frontal assault against your brain has mercifully ended. They’re littered with grammatical errors and are scrolled over a dopey and wholly unnecessary power ballad.
Antonio Banderas plays Jeremiah Ecks, a former FBI agent who abides by the rule that when your life goes south, you must develop unruly bangs and facial hair. His greasy ‘do and stubble was brought on by what he thinks was his wife’s death by assassination. Give yourself no points for deducing that — gasp! — Ecks’ wife is actually still alive.
Did I mention he’s a drunk? All these qualities make him the obvious choice for the FBI’s Big Assignment – bringing in the rogue Agent Sever (Lucy Liu, who had to be thankful she was limited to around 10 lines of writer Alan McElroy’s banal dialogue). It seems Sever — who is waaaaaay too cool for a first name — has kidnapped the child of a big-time arms dealer, and the kid holds the key to some coveted microscopic assassination device. From there, Ecks, Sever and a bunch of goons in SWAT-team gear wage war on the streets of Vancouver.
Although there is an action sequence every five minutes, any kinetic energy they might have had has been edited out of the final product. Only obligatory, random, loud crashes of metal, cracks of gunfire and cars squealing around corner remain. In fact, the backyard battles you staged with your green plastic army men were more exciting and almost certainly made more sense.
And when the army men were fighting, they didn’t talk either. We could only be so lucky. During one intense gunfight, a character yells, “Where is my bloody tactical team?” and “Who’s manning the assault vehicle?” The film’s main villain, clearly a philosopher, opines, “There are no innocent people, only killers and victims.” Right on, dude. McElroy’s writing is so lazy that when two foes fight, the only trash talking they do is reciting each other’s last name (e.g. “Sever.” “Ross.” “Ecks.” “Gant.”).
Ballistic is the most taxing sort of movie to watch — one that scrapes furiously at the bottom of the barrel with a broken, plastic fork. I really mean it this time: There will not be a worse movie released this year.