Sometimes, there’s little better than a good action flick, a film that’s not trying to be Shakespeare or re-examining the human condition. Just a simple tale of good vs evil, and the battle of one over the other. When you’ve got a simple structure like that, the challenge lies in coming up with more interesting ways to depict this. In 2002, young creative visionary codenamed “Kaos” had a vision on how to do just that and came to Vancouver and managed to create a dazzling action extravaganza about two rogue federal agents named Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever.
Hard on his luck former F.B.I. agent Jeremiah Ecks is called in by high up government officials to go track down a rogue C.I.A. agent by the name of Sever a task that seems easy to complete yet would grow to be fiendishly complicated by the agent’s deadly skill and questioning loyalties from all parties involved. Now the two most build an uneasy alliance as they try to navigate the tangled web of intrigue, explosions, kung-fu, and a whole lot of choreographed fights.
Ecks vs Sever is a breathing testament to the era of slick action films, an area of film-makers who were inspired by the effortlessly cool aesthetic and feeling of the hit action Sci-fi hybrid The Matrix. While feeling similar, it manages to set itself apart from the competition by the deliberate focus on the choreography and the spectacle pieces, and tonnes and tonnes of style. The film has a striking bluish-silvery look and the soundtrack is a strong concoction of pulse-raising break-beat and techno. Both working wonders in terms of hooking the audience in and capturing the zeitgeist of cool at the time.
Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu play their characters in interesting ways Ecks has the feel of a character straight out of a moody Noir detective film. You would think that wouldn’t blend well with high octane action, yet like chili and Chocolate, it’s a combination that surprisingly works well. Gregg Henry makes for a believable yet evil antagonist. Liu puts the martial arts training she is known for to good use here, even Darth Maul himself shows up as A.J. Ross, another emblem of the talent in action here.
Ecks vs Sever understands that it’s an action film and by focusing its efforts on impressive visuals and then contemporary music to put together a slick action flick that is recommended for the times when you’ve got a bowl of popcorn going and a whole hour to kill. Ecks vs Sever is a film that deals with the concept of who you can trust, for a fun espionage adventure, I can’t think of many alternatives.
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