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September 24, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Tuesday*
September 24, 2002
michigandaily.com/arts
mae@michigandaily.com

R(Trs

5

'Ballistic' Banderas
battles tough 'U' alum
Lucy Liu's 'Sever'

RYAN
BLAY

By Ryan Lewis
For the Daily
Every part of "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever" exists
for the sole purpose of bringing about more
action. Only a basic plotline drives this film
where just about every scene has somebody being
punched, slashed, shot, or blown-up. Sever (Lucy
Liu, "Shanghai Noon") has more super-agent
skills than James Bond, which she uses to pum-
mel or kill just about every other character in the
film including Antonio Banderas.
Ecks (Banderas, "Four Rooms")S
has a cheeky attitude and FBI -
training that helps him outwit **
everyone but Sever. Together, they
cause tremendous destruction but BALLISTIC
have a story that is anything but vs. SEV

dous obstacle for all who
need tohcatch and con-
tain her, especially
because she uses the
tactics of her would-be
captures.
After a whole
sequence of events
involving Sever destroy-
ing a small army of
agents and police offi-
cers, a chase
and Ecks
being arrest-

Network should offer some
refuge to canned TVshows

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

University grad Lucy Liu gets up in arms with Banderas.

: ECKS
VER

interesting.
"Ballistic" appropriately titles
the film as a multitude of bullets
and projectile weapons barrage the
screen. Director Wych
Kaosayananda, a.k.a. Kaos, fails to
deliver a meaningful film in his first

At Showcase and
Quality 16
Warner Bros.

ed, the story
evolves into a more complex family
issue. The boy who Sever kidnapped is
really Ecks' son, and his wife, who he
had assumed dead and buried, is mar-
ried to Gant. Sever, not surprisingly,
has a powerful grudge against the DIA.
She was an agent trained by them from
childhood, but left the service after a
botched assignment lead to the agency
her family. Of course this provides the

attempt in

killing,

American cinema, but he does manage to produce
similar action to that of his crossover predecessors.
He makes it so that each and every bullet fired
receives sufficient attention. The weapons have
more screen presence than the actors themselves.
As a retired FBI agent, Ecks is drawn back into
service after learning that this new assignment can
bring information about his assumed deceased
wife. His assignment: find Sever. The FBI has
learned that the head of the Defense Intelligence
Agency, Robert Gant (Gregg Henry, "Payback"),
has stolen a new microscopic killing machine from
a lab in Germany, and they are after Sever because
she kidnapped Gant's son. Ecks must find Sever
and the information she has on the stolen technol-
ogy before the DIA does. She has an arsenal full
of deadly weaponry and the skills to kill anyone
and everyone she pleases. This supplies a tremen-

motivation for the two characters to join forces for
the ultimate purpose of revenge.
Nearly every character and storyline in the film
is forgotten or left unsatisfied. The majority of the
cast has negligible importance and serves as most-
ly a stomping ground for Liu. Nothing in the story
explains her character's lack of expression and
emotion, and Banderas has an emotional arc of
tired to witty to tired with a momentary lapse of
pain courtesy of Liu or some falling pipelines.
Many of the sequences have no reason being in the
film whatsoever, as they neither drive the story nor
have any bearing on the character's lives. Even the
history behind Ecks believing his wife dead and
her loveless marriage to Gant is poorly explained.
For some reason, everything most important is
explained in passing and paid little attention, and
anything less important is unsettled.

However, putting aside the emptiness of the
script and the derivative nature of the story, the
action sequences in the film do present a fair level
of excitement. The fighting is well choreographed,
and the film is piled high with gun battles reminis-
cent of John Woo's bullet ballets. Lucy Liu is quite
impressive with her physicality, especially in her
fantastic face-off against Gant's lackey Ross
(British martial arts expert Ray Park, "X-Men").
Additionally, the action allows Kaos to film some
fantastic shots, including one of the greatest death
plunges ever. Yet, as with everything else in the
film, the action is hindered by an overabundance
of slow motion and unmotivated killing.
Although some of the photography is notable,
the film is nothing more than a mediocre action
movie. Probably the most intriguing fact is that it
was shot in Vancouver and actually takes place in
Vancouver as opposed to making it New York. It
would have been much more exciting if the DIA
ever seemed like it actually posed a threat or chal-
lenge to Ecks and Sever, but instead they cruise
along with their hardest task being uniting in their
common cause. Kaos does nothing to relieve the
absence of substance, suspense, and potency. This
is one movie where a tremendous amount of battle
cannot come close to making up for a total lack of
an appealing story.

T he aliens on "Roswell" used to
slurp down massive quantities of
hot sauce. You know how I know
this? Not from watching the show, it
didn't appeal to me. But it obviously
appealed to a loud minority who
campaigned to save the show from
cancellation in April 2000.
The show, which had mild critical
acclaim and a devoted following,
gained a great deal of press from the
campaign. Thousands of bottles of
hot sauce later, the WB network
moved it to a new timeslot, where it
eventually died the death of most
shows that run on the WB.
Still, there is something to be said
for dedicated television watchers.
Should the fans have to suffer
because a show couldn't find a
niche on the WB? Or should there
be a place to find shows that just
couldn't make it in this ratings-
crazed environment?
It would be too easy to put
"Roswell" and the recently canned
."Farscape" on the Sci-Fi Network.
Here's a more novel approach: Create
a network restricted to shows the net-
works cancel because of ratings -
not because they suck (sorry, "Caro-
line in the City"). I'm talking shows
that people care enough about to
start internet sites like Save-
farscape.com.
Wouldn't it be clever of a network
to take the initiative and put forth a
network lineup of "Futurama,"
"Roswell," "Farscape" and "Once and
Again?" Many shows don't peak until
well into their third season or later, and
by pairing these shows with one anoth-
er, perhaps the stations can develop
interest by cross-marketing to viewers.
The current total of 148,616 signa-
tures on the "Future for Futurama" peti-
tion indicates that people care about the
show. The petition correctly points out

that the recent season - one DVD
release indicated strong sales, and the
Sunday time slot was often pre-empted
by NFL football or other Sunday night
events. (note: Reruns of "Futurama"
were recently acquired by the Cartoon
Network). Why FOX would do that to a
Matt Groening show that actually
showed potential is beyond my compre-
hension, but the fact remains that no
new episodes are in production after the
backlog of episodes is finished running.
Thanks a lot, viewers, you're no
longer needed.
Is there a coincidence that three of
the shows mentioned above all have a
sort of science fiction element to
them? Are the networks just incapable
of producing long term series about
space anymore, a la "Star Trek" and
its successors? The few science-fic-
tion themed shows to stay on the air
are "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and
its spin-off, "Angel," "Enterprise," a
"Star Trek" spin-off, and the new hit
"The Dead Zone" on USA. Does this
mean that we should expect more can-
cellations of these (for the most part)
critically acclaimed shows?
Comedy Central periodically holds
voting to see which episodes of
"South Park" the viewers want to see
again. The "FX" network did the
same with old "X-Files" reruns. It
appeals to our sense of democracy to
see network executives in New York
and Los Angeles respond to viewers
in Ann Arbor or Omaha. So why can't
there be a network dedicated to under-
rated shows like "Freaks and Geeks"
and "Undeclared" (over 8,000 signa-
tures on http://www.saveunde-
clared.8m.com)?
How many signatures will it take?

Hawn, Sarandon 'Bang away

By John Laughlin
For the Daily
Director Bob Dolman's first film
after a career of screenwriting (includ-
ing "Willow" and "Far and Away"),
"The Banger Sisters" is the story of the
reconciliation of two
friends who were once I
famous rock groupies.
Goldie Hawn stars as
Suzette and Susan Saran- THE
don as Livinia, or "Vin- SIS
nie." We come to find
that when the two friends At ShoN
parted ways long ago, Qua
Suzette decided to remain Fox Se
the same person, while
Vinnie branched off to form a new life
for herself and locked the past way.
The story picks up when Suzette is
fired from her job as a bartender at the
Whiskey A-Go-Go in Hollywood. In an
attempt to get some money she decides
to go to Phoenix where her old friend
now lives. Busty, blonde and looking
like Penny Lane (her daughter Kate
Hudson) from "Almost Famous" -
flash 20 years later - Suzette soon

finds herself stranded on the highway
en route. Enter Harry Plumber (Geof-
frey Rush, "Lantana"), Suzette's savior
who will later get repaid for his good
deed.
The two chat it up and we find that
Harry is a failed writer who has chosen

*
BANGER
TERS
wcase and
lity 16
archlight

to go home to Phoenix to
kill his father believing
his dad put a curse on
him when he was a child
(I know, stay with me
here). Harry tries to tell
Suzette that her idea to
ask her friend for money
is a bad idea, but Suzette
will hear nothing of it.
She attempts to visit Vin-

nie, but turns back once she sees from
afar the life Vinnie has built for herself
All hope is lost until Suzette encounters
Vinnie's daughter, Hannah (Erika
Christensen), in her hotel when Hannah
has taken too much LSD at her prom.
Suzette now has an "in" and takes the
girl home where she is greeted rather
harshly by her "best friend." Suzette
leaves, but Vinnie comes back to apolo-
gize. Moving from arguing to talking

about what to do about Hannah having
sex in the family pool, Suzette soon
finds herself invited for dinner.
The turning point of the film is dur-
ing dinner when Vinnie snaps back into
her old self in one of the worst epiphany
scenes ever - one second she's fine,
the next: "Oh, I know who I truly am!"
What follows is the two friends going
out to a club and reliving the past. See-
ing middle-aged Sarandon dance made
this reviewer re-live the nightmare of
seeing Michael Douglas "get jiggy wit
it" in "Basic Instinct." Yikes. What tops
this is when the two go back to Vinnie's
home to look at their "Rock Cock" col-
lection. Enough said.
The major flaws with this film are its
pacing and its audience appeal. The
film is slow and too much time is spent
on meaningless conversations. Only one
flashback is used and it doesn't even
include the two "sisters." In addition,
one must ask: "Who is the audience for
this film?" While the humor can be had
by all, the issues dealt with seem to be
aimed at an older age bracket. This is
not to say the film is out of reach for
younger audiences, but a generation gap
does exist.
Goldie Hawn is great in this film and
still as sexy as she was in "Overboard."
Sarandon seems to have fun with the
role - probably reliving her "Thelma
and Louise" days. The last thing con-
firmed in this film is the fact that Erika
Christensen cannot act. Just like her
role in "Traffic" she plays the good girl
who is secretly bad, and while typecast-
ing can partially be blamed, Christensen
never overcomes her stale role with a
quality performance.
"Banger Sisters" is all tired plotlines
and characters; in the end product is just
an aching headache.

Y

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Ryan Blay can be reached at
rblay@umich.edu

CUSTOM PRINTED

Courtesy of FOX Searchlight

These two make too much money.

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