Thursday, June 20, 2013

Movie Review: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever

Going in all I really knew about 2002's Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever was that it was directed by a guy named Kaos, and that it involved someone named Ecks fighting someone named Sever. Oh yeah, and that it was bad. Really bad. It was voted the worst movie of the decade by numerous websites back in the 2000's, and is still considered one of the worst movies of all time. It's even one of the few movies to score a perfect 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. So of course, I just had to watch it and see for myself just how bad it really was.

It's no exaggeration to say that this is one of the dumbest movies ever made. Ballistic takes the Big Dumb Action Movie stereotype to the most extreme limit possible and manages to be rock stupid even by the already low standards of the action porn genre. Case in point: if even one member of the Defense Intelligence Agency remembered that tasers exist, this movie would have been over at 20 minutes. Seriously, an early action scene relies on the premise that the DIA agents and police weren't allowed to actually shoot Sever in their attempt at apprehending her. Instead they try to shoot around her to pin her down until someone cand close in and subdue her. If they had just pulled out a taser, or some tear gas, or even just shot her in the damn leg then the movie would have been over right there.

"But come on," you say, "you can't rag on the movie for being dumb. It's action porn!" That's true. The world of Ballistic is one where the police carry rocket launchers, the FBI has a ritual suicide policy, and where US government agents can demolish most of Vancouver, Canada and no one minds. It's a world where having a child apparently makes it okay to commit mass murder, destruction of property, and felony kidnapping. Most of all, it's a world where a movie can be subtitled Ecks vs. Sever even though the characters named Ecks and Sever actually work together. So yeah, this movie shouldn't be expected to make sense. It's all about the explosions and gunplay.

Unfortunately, Ecks vs. Sever can't even get the action scenes right. For a movie that seems intent on caring for nothing besides explosions it's strange how little we actually get to see of the badass kabooms it gives us. The movie puts its action scenes completely backwards. It will spend five seconds on a lingering, slow motion closeup of Lucy Liu as Sever firing a machine gun, then flash a half a second of the resulting car explosion as if it was a subliminal ad for international terrorism. It's almost as if the movie is ashamed of its special effects or something. Imagine that.

The movie doesn't even bother to give us anything new. At least other action porn movies typically try to do things that are a little new and unique. The Ong Bak series had a guy punch out an elephant. Shoot 'Em Up managed to combine a sex scene and an action scene into one. Crank had its main character lick car batteries. This movie never even attempts anything like that. The hardware never advances beyond the standard trenchcoats and submachine guns, and the action never takes us anywhere more interesting than your cliché action movie locales like inexplicably foggy back alleys, city streets, and of course the old standby Steam And Flame Factory.

The movie does manage to pick up a little bit in the last thirty minutes or so, by which I mean it goes from "absolute crap" to "almost average." Of course, it takes the patience of a saint or a masochist to get that far in and even then it never gets past mediocre.

KR Rating: [1] HORRIBLE

I feel like there are two kinds of bad movies. There are some bad movies that you actually enjoy watching anyway, like Street Fighter. It's obvious that the people involved were having fun, there were a few interesting ideas, and the movie was honestly funny, albeit for reasons the filmmakers never intended.

Then there are movies like this. Ballistic isn't the worst movie ever made. It's not a spectacular train wreck of failure like Disaster Movie, and it can't compare to the soul-crushing madness of The Star Wars Holiday Special, but it's just... so... damn... DULL. By the one quarter mark I was already thinking about all the things I was going to do once this movie was finally over. The plot segments are incomprehensible and drag out interminably. The action scenes were poorly edited, boring, and formulaic.

To put it in a less classy way, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is the action movie equivalent of a porno that spends 80% of its runtime on lingering shots of the headboard bumping against the wall, only occasionally flashing away to scenes of boring, mostly clothed, missionary position sex.

This movie didn't do anything right and it isn't even fun to watch ironically. It's just plain awful.