Returning home with his mother Vinn (Talisa Soto) from a trip to Berlin, Michael Gant, the son of Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) director Robert Gant (Gregg Henry), is kidnapped and his security detail is wiped out by the attacker, ex-DIA agent Sever (Lucy Liu). FBI agent Jeremiah Ecks (Antonio Banderas), left the agency after his wife Rayne was killed in a car bombing. His old boss, Julio Martin (Miguel Sandoval), asks him to investigate the Gant case. He claims that Rayne is still alive and he will give Ecks the information on her whereabouts, if he helps take down Sever. Ecks agrees and realizes Sever must be an orphan Chinese girl the DIA adopted to train as a covert operative and assassin with "no fear, no conscience and no morality." Meanwhile, Gant executes the only survivor of Michael's security detail. He then orders his elite agents, led by A. J. Ross (Ray Park), to pursue Sever and rescue Michael.
Ecks joins Martin and CSIS agent Harry Lee (Terry Chen) in Vancouver, where Sever is hiding out. Ecks learns that Gant stole an experimental weapon codenamed Softkill, a nanomachine which operates in the human circulatory system and can cause heart attacks at will. Gant had implanted Softkill in Michael in order to smuggle it into the United States. Ross and his men surround Sever in a shopping plaza, but she wipes out Ross's forces in a lengthy gun battle. Sever shoots Martin, and Ecks pursues Sever, climaxing with a fight that's cut off when Ross starts shooting at them with an M60 machine gun, giving Sever a chance to escape.
Ecks is arrested by Vancouver PD under the false pretense that he killed Martin. While being transported to jail, his convoy is attacked by Sever, who frees Ecks. After a lengthy car chase, Sever tells Ecks that she's on his side and gives him his wife's location. Ecks meets Rayne at an aquarium and it's revealed that her "death" was orchestrated by Gant. Rayne ended up believing Ecks had died while he thought she was gone. Rayne then married Gant under the name Vinn. It ends up that Gant had Sever's family killed; it was initially believed that kidnapping Michael was Sever's revenge. However, Rayne reveals that Michael is actually Ecks' son, and Sever's kidnapping was for his protection.
Ecks, Rayne, and Sever go to Sever's underground bunker in an abandoned trainyard, where Rayne is reunited with Michael. Gant and Ross arrive with an army of heavily-armed DIA agents, and a massive battle ensues. Ecks and Sever eventually gain the upper hand, and Sever kills Ross in a fight in the bunker. Gant tries to retrieve the Softkill in Michael's arm, but is surprised to find it's not there. Sever kills Gant using a Softkill-loaded bullet, and escapes as the police arrive. The film concludes with Ecks and Sever looking over the sea and Ecks thanking Sever for reuniting him with his family.Antonio Banderas as FBI Agent Jeremiah Ecks
Lucy Liu as Agent Sever
Gregg Henry as DIA Director Robert Gant / Agent Clark
Ray Park as A. J. Ross
Talisa Soto as Rayne Ecks/Vinn Gant
Miguel Sandoval as Julio Martin
Terry Chen as Agent Harry Lee
Roger R. Cross as Zane
Sandrine Holt as Agent Bennett
Steve Bacic as Agent Fleming
Tony Alcantar as Edgar Moore
David Palffy as Sleazy Man
David Pearson as VPD Officer
Norm Sherry as Ross Sniper
Brian Drummond as VPD Officer
Joel Kramer as Bus Driver
John DeSantis as Bus Guard #2
Charles Andre as Agent Addis
Mike Dopud as DIA Agent
Jonathan Kelly as the Da Feiji technology teacher
Jet Li as man in car (uncredited)
As of September 2016, Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever had a 0% score on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 116 reviews and an average rating of 2.6 out of 10. Of all movies with a 0% rating, Ballistic had the most reviews of all as of March 2017. The critical consensus states: "A startlingly inept film, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever offers overblown, wall-to-wall action without a hint of wit, coherence, style, or originality". In March 2007, Rotten Tomatoes ranked the film #1 on its "The Worst of the Worst" movie list: "the worst-reviewed movie in our site’s history". The film also has a score of 19 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 26 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".
Roger Ebert gave the film half a star out of four and later listed it on his most hated movies list and said of the film: "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is an ungainly mess, submerged in mayhem, occasionally surfacing for cliches, overloaded with special effects and explosions, light on continuity, sanity and coherence. There is nothing wrong with the title Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever that renaming it 'Ballistic' would not have solved. Strange that they would choose such an ungainly title when, in fact, the movie is not about Ecks versus Sever but about Ecks and Sever working together against a common enemy — although Ecks, Sever and the audience take a long time to figure that out."
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $7 million in 2,705 theaters for an average of $2,591 per theater, ranking #4 at the US box office. The film ultimately earned $14.3 million in the US and $5.6 million internationally for a total of $19.9 million on a $70 million production budget.
The soundtrack includes these tracks:
- "Main Title"
- "The Name of the Game"
- "Smartbomb" [Plump Dj's Remix]
- "Heaven Scent" [Original Mix]
- "The Flow"
- "I Think of You" [Screamer Remix]
- "Hell Above Water"
- "I Need Love"
- "The Aquarium"
A Game Boy Advance first-person shooter, Ecks vs. Sever, was released in 2001, before the film. It received very positive reviews and received a 9/10 on IGN. The game was considered an impressive technological feat on the GBA and was better regarded than the film itself. A second game created after the premiere, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, which follows the plot-line from the film, is considered a sequel to the first game.