Aug 10, 2017
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002): a recap (part 4 of 6)
Previously on Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever: Lucy Liu’s character got both a name and a motivation. It’s just like improv class.
Ecks, still googling Sever on his laptop, finds video of a house being blown up by a drone.
And now we know just as much of Sever’s backstory as we’re going to get. She had a baby. The DIA considered this a betrayal, so they blew up her house. Now she doesn’t have a baby and good luck getting Farmer’s to pay for damage from drone strikes.
The next thing that happens is that Sever calls Gant. She just looks up his cell phone number and calls it. Whatever directory she’s using, I don’t have access to it.
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Lucy Liu gets a whole lot of words in this scene; fifty-three, to be exact. Gant asks where his son is, and Sever, being kind of a bitch, answers, “Maybe the same place my son is.” Sick burn, Sever, telling him his son is dead. A few lines later, though, she changes tactics and says Michael is fine but misses his mother. Sick burn, Sever, treating Gant like he’s a bad father. Then she offers to exchange Michael’s life for Gant’s, an idea that Gant is not too keen on because he’s a bad father. He threatens her for a bit and then hangs up.
And the point of that conversation was… I don’t know. Sever didn’t tell Gant anything he didn’t already know. We learned nothing new as an audience. Gant and Sever even forgot to set up a meeting place for their eventual hostage exchange/shootout. But Lucy Liu made a paper crane while they were talking, so it wasn’t a total waste.
Meanwhile, local police have busted into that disposable FBI agent’s home and arrested Ecks for the attempted murder of FBI agent Julio Martin. Who is that? It appears to be the lead FBI guy that Sever shot. Why would the police believe Ecks is guilty? Because the DIA tipped them off. Vancouver PD is, in this movie, a wing of the US Defense Intelligence Agency.
I’d just like to hear one conversation between two Vancouver detectives:
“Why are we choosing to believe this American with a gun and a badge over this one?”
“Shut up, you fool! That’s Darth Maul! The other guy was in Evita. I mean, hello? Madonna as Evita? Patti LuPone would be spinning in her grave if she weren’t alive and currently starring in War Paint on Broadway. Entertainment Weekly called it, ‘Nothing short of flawless.’ Now you beat up Zorro while I get Toad’s autograph.”
For reasons best known to the Vancouver police, they let Toad question Ecks alone. Ecks’ basic line is that Sever is going to kill them all unless they let him out to hunt her. Toad calls Gant, and on hearing Ecks’ name, Gant tells him to “Get rid of him.”
I would assume “Get rid of him” is code for “Pretend to take him into custody and then murder him.” Since it’s an American committing a crime against an American, the US can assert jurisdiction. I learned that on “Spencer”, episode thirteen of this crappy season of Criminal Minds.
Instead of taking Ecks and shooting him gangland style, “Get rid of him” appears to mean, “Just turn him over to the Vancouver PD and let them figure it out.” Because that’s what the DIA does. They just leave him in police custody. How long is this going to last? Eventually, somebody there is going to have to wonder why they’re charging this one guy with trying to kill one FBI agent when they all saw an Asian woman declare war on an entire library.
Gant eventually goes home and Mrs. Gant is obviously upset. She’s not very upset though, considering the fact that she doesn’t even know if her son is alive. Gant tells her he’s sure he is. She asks why Michael was taken, and Gant lies that he doesn’t know. She asks what he’s doing to get him back. Gant says he can’t tell her and that he tried to protect them from this part of his life. The missus is still pretty angry and storms off, saying, “Just find him.”
All in all,
Vinn Ecks Rayne Gant seems extremely well-composed for a woman who knows: 1) her son was kidnapped from her arms by the DIA; 2) he was then kidnapped from his kidnappers; and 3) some woman shot eleven hundred DIA agents and sixteen thousand police cars in the same city she’s in. My mother once lost my sister at the mall, and when I got there, was a hysterical mess in the security office. My sister at the time, true story, was seventeen.
The next scene is easily the dumbest in the movie.
Ecks is being transported in a prison bus. There’s a bus driver and a guard up at the front. That’s important, remember that. Ecks is in the back of the bus in handcuffs. Alone. Not shackled to his seat. He’s working on his handcuffs with a paper clip. We never saw him palm one, so as far as I know, they’re issued standard with all handcuffs in Canada.
Suddenly, Sever is standing on an overpass, and just as Ecks gets the cuffs off… she shoots the bus with a damn rocket. The front right of the bus explodes as the driver tries and fails to stop. Instead, the bus fishtails into a passenger car, bounces off that and hits another moving car.
Sever, not yet satisfied with the mayhem, shoots the bus with another rocket. This flips the bus on its side and Antonio Banderas goes bouncing around. They don’t show the driver or the guard, but the entire front of the bus comes off and blows up, so their prospects are looking dim.
At this point, for no reason whatsoever, a man falls off his motorcycle. There’s no context to it. He’s not near the bus. He just falls off.
Ecks manages to grab a gun that maybe the guard had and climbs onto the top of the bus. Sever drives by just then on her motorcycle, stops, looks at Ecks, revs her bike for a bit, and then takes off.
Lucky for Ecks, he spots a completely unused motorcycle just lying in the road, with the driver nowhere to be seen. He hops on the Motorcycle Of Great Convenience and gives chase.
Next comes your standard motorcycle chase. They go down stairs. They circle around and go the wrong way down the road. Ecks isn’t wearing a helmet, so it’s pretty easy to see his stunt driver. Sever’s stunt driver does a much better job of looking like Lucy Liu in a helmet.
The police also appear to be involved, trying to follow them in two sedans and an exceptionally old Volvo. How do we know they’re police? The cars all have lights and sirens. Call me skeptical, but I feel like the DIA wouldn’t have that, being a spy agency and all.
A bunch of passenger cars hit each other because of all this nonsense. And now Ecks is driving through some sort of truck depot with the cops following him. Somehow, the Volvo has gotten ahead of Ecks. Sever walks calmly into the middle of the aisle, raises a gun and scares the police into slamming in reverse. This fails to satisfy her, and she shoots the Volvo with a grenade or a mini-nuke or some weapon she crafted herself in Fallout 4.
Ecks is still being chased by two sedans. Not a problem. Sever fires yet another grenade at a stack of junked cars (that are in the truck depot for some reason). They fall like Jenga bricks. Both sedans hit them, flip in the air, and explode. Ecks makes out a little better. He slams into something, loses his bike, and gets launched into the air. He hits the pavement and rolls to a stop more or less at Sever’s feet.
This plan couldn’t have gone better for Sever. I’m not sure how she knew when the police would be transporting Ecks, that he’d be alone, that he’d find a bike on which to follow her, that the junked cars would fall in the right way, or that Vancouver PD would be too stupid to call for any sort of backup. Also, I’m not sure how she justifies murdering two prison guards, however many cops were in those cars, and a couple of civilians who got in the way. But for execution, I give her an A+.
Ecks is lying on the concrete, pretty exhausted from almost dying. Sever walks right up to him, puts a pistol under his chin, and then… doesn’t shoot him. Instead, she lays the gun down beside him and hands him a note with his wife’s address.
So this whole action scene was for Sever to bust Ecks out of police custody. She was on his side the entire time. Let me make this clear: It is no longer Ecks vs. Sever. All of the “vs.” is over. It consisted entirely of that one fight they had on the roof of the parking garage at about the thirty-minute mark. Since then, it’s been Ecks and Sever vs. Gant, or more formally, Ecks vs. Gant vs. Sever vs. Every Living Man, Woman, and Child in Vancouver.
Also, why does Sever even feel the need to recruit Ecks into her lunacy? Her plan was to take Gant’s son, remove the nanofrog, and kill Gant. So far, that’s all gone perfectly. Ecks wasn’t even much of a problem for her, especially after the police got him. Sever was doing fine on her own. All she really accomplished was starting yet another war against the city of Vancouver. The benefit was close to zero, and the risk was getting caught or killed and then having Michael starve to death in her lair. She should talk to her therapist about her tendency to self-sabotage.
Probably the best thing about this scene doesn’t appear in the movie. Instead, one has to read the breathless production notes, acting as though this was the greatest chase scene in the wildest action movie in cinema history.
Kaos’ commitment to realism extended to the creation of practical stunts and effects. [The crew] welcomed the enormous challenge and worked closely together to coordinate the action sequences, most of which had to be perfect the first time because they could not be re-created.
That right there is the writing of a person who is completely deluded—like Branch Davidian level deluded. The Heaven’s Gate guys had a firmer grasp on reality than the writer of these production notes.
Coming up: Melanie Griffith’s husband reunites with Benjamin Bratt’s wife and Lucy Liu makes a bunch more paper cranes.