In 1995’s ”Assassins,” Antonio Banderas squared off against Sylvester Stallone as, well, assassins trying to, uh, assassinate each other. Now in Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, directed by Kaos (not ”Get Smart”’s evil organization, but a nom de film for Thai tyro Wych Kaosayananda), Banderas faces an even tougher adversary…would you believe, Lucy Liu? Actually, with her cruel beauty and kick-ass ”Charlie’s Angels” cred, it is kinda believable for the first half hour. Then the heretofore silent Liu speaks a line, and her baby-doll voice betrays her.
Letting his I-don’t-give-a-damn stubble do his acting, Banderas plays Jeremiah Ecks, an ex-FBI agent racing Liu’s killing machine, codenamed Sever, to recover a stolen plot device — er, assassination device. ”Ballistic” bombards moviegoers with a cacophony of automatic gunfire, exploding vehicles, and pseudo-techno music, but what else would you expect from a guy who lists Michael Bay as one of his influences? Kaos was apparently aiming for a coolly stylized, straight-faced take on ”Spy vs. Spy.” As Maxwell Smart used to say, ”Missed it by that much.”