While filming a large-scale action scene that involved explosives, a detonation occurred too close to Antonio Banderas, who escaped with minor burns. Afterward, he was allegedly very vocal with the FX team about their miscalculation of the explosion's size.
The 2001 Game Boy Advance game "Ecks vs. Sever" was actually based on an early script draft for this film, not the other way around. The game's producers later made a sequel to that game that was based on the finished version of this movie.
According to director Wych Kaosayananda, co-star Antonio Banderas suggested Lucy Liu come on for the role of Sever after having previously worked with her on Play It to the Bone (1999). When the director had earlier read the script, he felt that it was rather similar to the films The Killer (1989) and Leon the Professional (1994), while actually visualizing that Chou-Yun Fat and Jean Reno could be perfect square-off leads. Franchise Pictures didn't find either Fat and Reno financially viable though.
Some critics, bloggers and other movie viewers have compared this film to War (2007) due to it containing a similar storyline (disgruntled federal agent figuring out a conspiracy), people varying on the action scenes being exciting or not, both films being advertised as a versus film only for both lead stars to square off briefly on-screen and due to overwhelming dislike with both films.
Co-star Terry Chen later played a similar FBI agent partner character in the similarly infamous film War (2007). Chen has also co-starred in various films and shows with Roger R. Cross, Steve Bacic and Sandrine Holt.
"After casting, the real challenges started. We were going to shoot everything in Bangkok while we retouched the script to fit the location. Then the notes came in, and I won't get into the details but there are only two things anyone needs to know about the changes that were made by request from the studio. One: In the original draft, Sever kidnaps Ecks' son, and the whole time, the boy is basically kept in a kid-sized glass box just big enough for him to sit in, placed on top of a kilo of C4. That was changed. Two: There was no other motivation for the characters. It was all about family. Gant "kills" Ecks and takes his wife, Vinn, and their son, with both believing each other to be dead. Meanwhile, Sever wants revenge for the death of her family at the hands of Gant and his men. So, believing it was Gant's son, she she kidnaps him and Ecks springs into action. It was all about love and family and nothing else. The nano technology included in the final draft had nothing to do with what I wanted for the story. Granted, we had a fantastic writer. Franchise Pictures brought Peter Lenkov to rewrite Alan McElroy's script and he did a great job with the instructions he was given. Yes, there were changes made that watered it down to my chagrin, but it was as satisfactory as it needed to be at the time and everybody was on board. Then, tragedy struck in September 2001 and we had to relocate from Bangkok to Vancouver for safety reasons. Those moving expenses ended up in cutting more action scenes out, but thankfully our terrific crew made things feel much easier." (Wych Kaosayananda on changes made to the film)
"Well, I'll try to explain this as best as I can: I did my first cut which as I understood it was just that-my first cut which was the script as shot and fine tuned. There were scenes I wasn't sure of, but liked. And we also tested the movie; One scene in particular lost the audience and the experience wasn't very good. It was a little heavy on melodrama, and I own that. I loved the scene, but also was afraid it wouldn't work and could easily be cheesy. But again, I honestly felt that was what the tests were for, and I was wrong. We didn't score well and based on that test, two producers who I was already having issues with for various reasons basically just took over the movie. I found out as I was on my way to the editing room two days after the test screening and just a day after having a big meeting with Warner Bros. executives and marketing people, who were terrific by the way. By the time I got to the edit suites, my editor was Caroline Ross, a wonderful person and a great editor, was also fired and replaced, after all those hours and weeks I spent with her. And I wasn't too pleased to say the least. So, after consulting with my agents at CAA, it was decided it was best to just walk away quietly and they'd focus on getting my next job. I still had a great relationship with the executives at Warner Bros. I had things in development with Fox 2000 and RKO and we'd just move on. The problem was, I couldn't. I'd shot an old school actioner in 2002 with the Steve McQueen classic Bullitt as my template. My DP and I had specific needs to be met with the way we shot it, especially when it came to all the action scenes I choreographed while working with Joel Kramer - one the best stunt coordinators in his field. But despite our best efforts, the movie was butchered to the point where certain shots were flipped because the edit no longer made sense. And yes, this also affected the sequencing and pacing of the action - it was horrible to watch. Just so you know, I had only ever seen the theatrical cut once with no audio, during the colour grade with Julio, my DP. At the premier I waited until the movie had been playing for thirty minutes before taking my seat. I did this because I knew the movie was bad. I pretty much hyperventilated for the whole evening." (Wych Kaosayananda on producer's interference with the film and his reaction with how it turned out)
Roger R. Cross, Steve Bacic and Sandrine Holt are Canadian performers who have been in many of the same films and shows together before and after this film. Bacic and Holt both have scenes in the flashback but no dialogue (either due to it being cut or other reasons). Cross is the only one of the trio who has various lines of dialogue, let alone a key supporting role.
Part of Rotten Tomatoe's Bottom 10 films that were poorly rated. The other nine are One Missed Call (2008), Pinocchio (2002), King's Ransom (2005), National Lampoon's Gold Diggers (2004) Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004), Strange Wilderness (2008), 3 Strikes (2000), Redline (2007) and Witless Protection (2008).
The possibly only good review recorded to dare by a professional critic (yet wasn't recorded on Rotten Tomatoes' site) was a review for the Daily Herald by film critic Jean Carey. It was recorded on Sept. 20, 2002 and the headline was " 'Ballistic' a great time at the movies."