Adam: Welcome to Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.
Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino.
Rob: She definitely spent some time glowering, if I remember correctly. Like you, I had a hard time following and/or caring about this one, though, and it wasn’t just the fact that we were half-conscious and bleary-eyed from the weekend’s adventures. It was because Ecks vs. Sever is a dull and lazy attempt at Matrix-sploitation that fails to inspire anything interesting between explosions and head whips. It sucks. The most exciting thing about it was watching your mailbox swing open when we retrieved the DVD.
Rob, what was this movie?
Rob: Considering the fact that you spent a lot of it trying to perform a patented Riske #walkout from your own home (No kidding, folks — He was roaming around the kitchen, laying on the floor, and doing everything he could to get away from his TV), I’m extraordinary impressed that you were able to manage that synopsis of Ecks vs. Sever. Better than I could do. Anyway, I think the film is a fairly well-meaning bit of follow-the-leader that tried to translate the Wachowskis' idiosyncratic Matrix into a more digestible (and far less philosophical) Happy Meal. It copies the recognizable details (black coats, sunglasses, Guns, Lots of Guns, etc.) and delivers them without understanding — or possibly without caring — what makes them interesting. It’s not alone, obviously, nor are any of those unforgivable sins, but the result is just a deeply boring viewing experience.
Adam: I don’t think it deserves a 0% score, but under the rules of Rotten Tomatoes, where it’s a pass/fail system, I understand why no one who’s watched it thought there was enough there for a recommendation. My guess as to why it didn’t make more bank would be 1) The title is ludicrous and single-handedly makes the movie sound like a punchline and 2) By 2002 the Matrix residual affection had already been given to Romeo Must Die, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Equilibrium, Charlie’s Angels, and The One. Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever was too late to the game. The only thing that was going to get Matrix love at that point was a sequel to The Matrix.
I have to say though I am nostalgic for this type of action movie. It feels very New Line-ish, where a studio is trying to cash in on hip elements and make a movie of its time. This seems harder to do now because (as we coincidentally discussed last weekend) pop culture is so fragmented that there really are very few actual trends anymore of what’s popular in the mainstream.
Do you think Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever could work in 2020 if they remade it? Who would you cast in the two lead roles?
Also, did you know there was a Game Boy Advance game called Ecks Vs. Sever released to strong reviews a full ten months before the film’s release? Apparently a sequel game (called Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever) came out shortly after the movie was in theaters which followed the movie’s plot line. It wasn’t as well received as the first game.
But I digress. An Ecks vs. Sever remake would need a plot overhaul if it wanted to rise any higher than Redbox status. I never got the sense that Ecks knew or cared who Sever was (Did I miss something? The video game suggests he knows her backstory), so finding a way to intertwine their stories and/or create more tension between them might make things compelling. You had to explain to me that Ecks’ wife and the Taliso Soto character weren’t the same person, which shows you just how bored I was. Hell, the movie isn’t really Ecks VERSUS Sever for more than ten minutes or so. How about Oscar Isaac and Samara Weaving for the leads? Get Walton Goggins for the Gregg Henry part, for sure. Most importantly: Bring back Ray Park! Pull a Casino Royale and just let that character cross over. He’d be all, “Oi! Give the fans what they want, mate! They wanna see Park! They wanna see the flippity-flip! You think Chris Pratt’s gonna do a proper flippity-flip? No way! I said to George [Lucas] once, I said: ‘You don’t think I can do it, do you?’ And he said, ‘That’s why I hired you, innit? The flippity-flip and the twirly-twirl.’ But he didn’t believe, right? A billion dollars later, he believed! Ron Howard, right? He didn’t let me do the twirly-twirl, and, you know, we saw what happened there.”
Alright. Time to get serious. Let’s rank Kaos’ filmography from worst title to best:
1. The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone
2. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever
3. Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge
5. Dead Earth (2020!)
6. Zero Tolerance
Adam: Oh, Park. The only change I would make to your ranking is swapping #3 and #4. I can see headlines that say “Fah is meh.” Reel talk: I think any appreciation I had for Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever came from the “Making Of” supplement we watched on the DVD after the movie was over. Kaos seems like a nice dude who tried to make a good movie. The IMDB trivia makes the case that the movie was hurt by producer interference. I guess we’ll never know. Anything else to say about Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever?
Rob: Aside from “Don’t watch it”? Nope! What are we talking about next week?
Adam: We’re reviewing the new Vin Diesel movie, Bloodshot. Until next time…
Rob: These seats are reserved.