In the deadly game of international espionage, elite anonymous operatives wage secret wars for power, information and national security. Agendas are rarely what they seem. Word has recently been circulating in these exclusive ranks of an ingenious new assassination device. Microscopic and injectable, it lies dormant inside its victim until activated and then kills in an instant, leaving no trace. In the frantic race to obtain this device, only two individuals, sworn enemies, have the skill, talent and tenacity to succeed. One is an agent known only by the code name Sever. Lethally trained to be the perfect weapon, Sever is precise and relentless in her pursuit of a goal. The other is the brilliant and determined former FBI man-hunter Jeremiah Ecks. Once preeminent in his field, Ecks resigned from the agency when his wife was killed in an explosion that left him a guilt-ridden emotional shell of himself. Now, forced back into service by his former mentor for the most challenging assignment of his career, Ecks prepares to face off against agent Sever, his most formidable foe.
You could call this film the dark side of "Spy Kids." Not only because a family is swept into the espionage biz — with a little boy as the bait used in a battle between a pair of disaffected spy-agency renegades — but also because the picture looks as if it were lighted with a 20-watt bulb. And it is dim in more ways than one. It pits the F.B.I. burnout Ecks (Antonio Banderas) against the superstar assassin Sever (Lucy Liu). But all the director manages to prove is that he has seen the same action movies as the rest of us. Or, taking into consideration the wealth of purloined shots of dusters being flung across sinewy, kick-boxing ready hips, that he's seen "The Matrix" more times than the rest of us. — Elvis Mitchell
2002-09-20 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever