The movie, "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever," is rated R. A Sept. 20 review in Style incorrectly reported the rating.
Goosey Lucy: 'Ballistic,' a Lot of Noisy Dumdum
Friday, September 20, 2002
We like Lucy Liu. We like her a lot. But someone else who likes her is the director calling himself Kaos, who would much rather watch her pose, particularly in black leather with a gun, than act. That's all he lets her do in the idiotic, banal "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever," a movie every bit as stupid as its exceedingly stupid title.
You could run this film backward, soundtrack included, and it would make no less sense. It's a Moebius strip of stylized stunt set pieces and slow-motion explosions, with vehicles that fly through the air in perfect rhythm like syncopated swimmers. It's almost completely uninvolving, as well as being impenetrable.
Liu plays Sever, some kind of Asian super-agent, evidently recruited to the America DIA, a play on ¿ duh! ¿ CIA, evidently betrayed by her own recruiters and now gone rogue.
She opens the film, in de rigueur black leather, by kung-fuing the bejabbers out of some nasty boys and removing the object of their care from them: a small boy, whom she keeps caged in a warehouse and feeds microwaved macaroni and cheese. Lucy, you may do this to me. I will eat any microwaved dish you prepare me, though I do prefer the Stouffer's Lean Cuisine Three-Bean Chili. You may even lock me in a cage. But please, don't do this stuff to a kid.
The boy is the son of ¿ oh, I forget, if I even knew in the first place. I think it changes. First he's one guy's son, then another's. Anyway, another super-agent, named Ecks (why not, I wonder, Triple-Ecks?), is recruited from the local sad-guy bar where he's drowning his troubles in vodka and shaving-avoidance strategies, and put on her tail. This is the charismatic Antonio Banderas, though it appears he checked his charisma at the border.
Also on her tail: the entire machine gun owners' community of greater Vancouver, B.C. That's another goofy thing about the movie: It's set in a Canadian city that is referred to by name many times, while all the agents are Americans and no Canadian police officers are anywhere in sight.
Well, parsing "Ballistic" for errors in fact, logic, physics and history is clearly pointless, as is the movie itself. Let it just be said that Kaos (actually the Thai director Wych Kaosayananda) gives Liu the full mythic treatment, but never lets her act human, or even actressy. She's just a Kabuki figure with guns and almost no dialogue, appearing out of the fog on chilly Canadian evenings to spray-paint fleets of anonymous men in Tommy Tactical suits with 9mm droplets while modeling eyes that make you think that there's a better way, somehow, even if it only involves a single night in a cheap motel in Encino. Things blow up, acres of glass are shattered (think of the wasted sand!), Banderas gets to snarl, and Liu gets to pose. I thought she didn't want to be a model.
BALLISTIC: ECKS VS. SEVER (PG-13, 90 minutes) ¿ Contains violence and sexual innuendo. At area theaters.