Nov 19, 2018
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002): a recap (part 6 of 6)
Previously on Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever: Who cares? The movie’s almost over!
Ecks, finally reunited with Vinn and his surprise son Michael, locks them in an elevator and sends them to the top of Sever’s very strange lair. Sever has led the DIA right to them. The final battle for strategic control of a six-year-old is about to commence.
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Ecks and Sever run around a train yard hiding guns and wiring up explosives. I guess her very strange lair is near the trains. On the outskirts, Gant’s men, in army uniforms, set up their assault. Their plan appears to be, “Walk forwards.” It’s like watching the movie version of Stratego.
Even Ross Maul thinks this whole thing is a bad idea. Gant argues that if Ross had done his job, none of this would be happening. “It’s your job,” according to Gant, “to fix my mistakes.” I get that. That’s exactly what I yell at the girl at McDonald’s when I order a Filet-O-Fish and she brings me a Filet-O-Fish. I didn’t want a damn Filet-O-Fish. Nobody wants one. How could she not know that?
Gant then has an equally insane conversation with Sever over walkie-talkies. She’s standing on a railroad car all bad-ass, being like, “Just come here and let me kill you.” He offers to reinstate her and even let her have a family. Sever, not unreasonably, says she preferred her first family.
And then the shooting starts. Gant yells, “Get her,” and everyone opens fire. I’m not sure how many guys there are, but they all miss as Sever runs away. The whole boxcar explodes and the DIA guys run in to get her corpse. But Sever appears from the smoke, says “My turn,” and blows up two train cars near them.
Antonio Banderas also triggers two cars to explode in, what I have to remind you, is a working rail yard. Literally anything could have been in those cars: hydrazine, kryptonite, pacific white-sided dolphins, anything. And isn’t there usually staff around? Do rail yards generally close for Memorial Day?
Nobody gets hurt by any of this. It looks a little like Ecks is trying to keep from killing anybody. But he gets cornered in a passenger car and shoots three soldier guys. He kneecaps two, but the third one gets a shotgun blast right to the chest. Sever, on the other hand, couldn’t give a damn. She’s definitely aiming to kill.
Sever and Ecks meet. She shoots the guys chasing him and he shoots at the guys chasing her. The soundtrack at this point is basically just the background music for a video game for the Nintendo-64.
It bears just one more brief mention that these are Americans shooting at other Americans in a working train yard on Canadian soil. Sever and Gant are good with it, Ecks appears to be good with it, but what the hell do the soldiers think is happening?
Everybody’s off on their own. They’re all running around and shooting anyone they see. It’s like playing paintball with eighth graders. Sever triggers some traps and blows up more soldier guys. Gant is wandering around with his gun drawn. Ecks keeps pulling hidden shotguns out of wheel wells. The police, I’m pretty sure, have made a conscious decision to just not get involved in any way.
Gant finds Ecks and asks for his wife and son. Ecks, strangely immobile, says they’re not his. Gant then switches tactics and threatens to kill them if Ecks doesn’t give them up. He is just… not a good father.
Ecks now proves that there’s no trope too dumb for action movies, because he’s got one foot on a landmine. He guarantees Gant that if he lifts his foot, Gant won’t walk away from it. First of all, this is not how landmines work. If you step on a mine, it explodes. It doesn’t wait for you to have a conversation about it.
But what really bothers me is this: Who planted the mine? The DIA couldn’t have, because they just got here. If Ecks and Sever did it, then they would have known where it was. The only alternative is that this is Ecks’ plan. His plan was to step on a landmine.
In any case, Ecks’ “plan” fails. He runs away from the mine while Gant, who also had a few seconds’ warning, runs in the opposite direction. The mine waits for everybody to get safely out of the way before exploding.
A carload of steel tubes fall on Ecks, but he just digs himself out and walks away because they were props.
Ross and two masked agents blow open the doors to Sever’s lair. Sever is already in there and they shoot at her as she runs away. Two agents chase her but—oh, this is stupid—they find themselves standing in a small puddle of water. Sever cuts some sort of electrical cord. It swings down, touches the water and electrocutes them both to death, making a bzzt sound for emphasis.
First of all, she shouldn’t have standing water in her lair. That’s just inviting mold. Second, the soldiers are wearing thick, rubber-soled boots. This isn’t even a movie trope, it’s a damn roadrunner cartoon.
Sever is now alone with Ross. They eye each other while each stripping themselves of guns because, I guess, this time it’s personal. The characters proceed to have a fairly lengthy kung-fu battle with knives and chains and lots of reversals and stuff. Lucy Liu steps in for the close-ups, but I’m pretty sure the entire time this is Ray Park, because that’s why you hire Ray Park.
Eventually, Sever somehow snaps Ross’ neck or slices his throat or something. And I can’t even imagine what Michael is thinking upon seeing the gruesome deaths of his dad’s friends from work.
Meanwhile, Ross managed to be evil in this movie without killing a single damn person. Darth Maul at least went one for two.
Gant saunters in. He throws a grenade in Sever’s direction before even checking out the lay of the room. There’s an explosion, but he doesn’t bother to make sure he even wounded her. He brings the elevator back down to the main floor and opens the gate to confront Vinn and Michael. He’s just pure villain now, a fact that somebody at some point must have explained to Michael because he’s looking a little afraid of his own dad.
Somebody certainly explained it to Gregg Henry, because he’s in full moustache-twirling bad-guy mode.
Ecks wanders into frame, standing with Vinn and Michael. This leads to the only good moment in the entire movie. Gant, clearly disappointed to see Ecks alive, sneers, “You’re still here.” And he makes the word “here” last about five seconds.
Ecks fills Vinn in on the whole nanofrog-smuggling thing. He and Vinn then let Gant take out a little Price Chopper scanner and press it on Michael’s arm. The light on the scanner turns red. Gant gets very upset when he realizes that the nanofrog isn’t there.
Of course it’s not in his arm, you idiot! Sever had him for a day and a half. She called specifically to taunt you. She led your helicopter right to this very spot. You trained her to always have some sort of a plan. Did you never consider that she had some sort of plan?
Gant demands to know where the nanofrog is. Ecks answers, “Ask her,” and indicates Sever, who’s standing at Gant’s back because, once again, Gant entered the enemy’s fortress only after all his backup guys were dead.
Ecks smirks, “She’s gonna kill you. Good luck.” Then he, Vinn, and Michael just turn their backs on him and walk away. Michael shows very little emotion upon hearing that his kidnapper is about to kill his father. Maybe he can’t understand Banderas’ accent. Also at some point in all this madness, someone calls Ecks “Jeremy” again. The movie could have been titled Ballistic: We’ll Fix It In Post.
Gant lets Ecks, Vinn, and Michael go because that was only seven years of his life. He turns to face Sever. She’s holding her gun at her side. He raises his and she shoots him point blank in the… arm.
Sever didn’t even shoot Gant in his gun hand. He laughs at her, “All that training, and that’s the best you can do?” No, idiot, it’s not. She pushes a button and Gant grabs his chest as he dies of a heart attack. Sever’s bullet injected him with the nanofrog because OF COURSE IT DID. Also, congratulations to the nanofrog for surviving the heat and pressure of a gun blast.
The FBI guy and some actual police finally show up to find Vinn, Ecks, and a boy who, at the very least, will never stop having nightmares. The FBI guy asks about “our mysterious killer.” Ecks responds, “She’s not a killer.” What is she then? According to Ecks, “A mother.” She’s a mother, alright. Also, she killed most of Vancouver. I wouldn’t be surprised if she went back to the aquarium and killed the dolphin.
It’s worth mentioning that Sever has solved absolutely nothing. Whoever made the nanofrog is still out there. Heck, at the start of the movie, the FBI already had blueprints for it. Dear lord, I’m basically writing a sequel.
On some construction crane somewhere at some point, Ecks meets up with Sever.
Sever tells Ecks to take care of his family and, let me just interject, he’s somehow still wet. When Ecks turns to ask what she’s going to do, Sever is gone. But she does leave one parting gift. It’s a paper crane.
The credits roll and you and I are free, free of the sins of our past. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever washed them away… just as, I assume, God probably intended.
So, was this the worst movie ever made? Well, yes and no. It is in that the filmmakers were actually trying to make a good movie and failed in just about every possible way. It’s out of date, miscast, and utterly incoherent. But the truth is that if this were a Jackie Chan vehicle out of Hong Kong in 1991, it would probably be considered reasonably good.
Still, it was made in 2002 with actual stars, an R rating for some reason, and a budget of seventy million dolphins. There’s just no excuse for this.
And now, as promised, a big Bollywood-style dance number:
And to S.F., who broke up with me all those years ago because I wouldn’t see this movie, I’d just like to say… I was completely right.