Synopsis – Meet a new kind of action hero. Six untraceable agents, totally off the grid. They’ve buried their pasts so they can change the future.
My Take – It is a known fact that every director brings his own signature style to his film, elements which you can spot from a mile away, and after being in the industry for more than twenty years, director Michael Bay (The Rock, Transformers) too has become set in his ways.
No matter the genre or the film’s plot, his signature crowd pleasing style comprising of elaborate car chase sequences, heart-throbbing action scenes, a bombardment of chaotic, visually arresting effects and of course, a large set of explosions, has ensured that Michael Bay continues to remain a commercially successful director, who delivers on larger-than-life cinematic experiences on the big screen.
With this film, after finally letting go of the Transformers film series, following the failure of its fifth installment, Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), director Michael Bay has brought his blockbuster style to Netflix, marking his first pairing with the streaming giant and Ryan Reynolds, arguably the best action comedy star working right now.
To clear the air right away, yes, the film is a mess filled with logic gaps, excessive violence and misogynistic nonsense from end to another, which shouldn’t come as any particular surprise to even his biggest fans. However, like every Michael Bay film it is also genuinely ridiculous fun. While the film suffers from lack of a captivating story-line, its cinematic action sequences, which are very much in-sync with the Transformers series, will not let one complain too much about it.
Reportedly costing $150 million, this latest Netflix Original film wraps a high-octane, costly action-drama inside, with the potential of becoming a big franchise. If you’re into big dumb blockbusters (like me) and have a decent television and sound system at home, then grab yourself some popcorn and settle in, as the film’s star Ryan Reynolds was not exaggerating when he called this one “The most Michael Bay film that Michael Bay has ever Michael Bayed.”
The story follows One (Ryan Reynolds), a tech billionaire, who in order to do some good for the world, faked his own death, and formed a ghost team to take out seriously evil people, the worst of the worst, like the Rovach Alimov (Lior Raz), the dictator of the fictional Arabic nation of Turgistan, where he in order to instill fear and control over its citizens, continues to gases them with serine, without provocation.
And in order to raise a coup and replace him with his more democracy inclined brother Murat (Peyman Maadi), One assembles a team of like-minded amoral idealists, which includes a former CIA agent code named Two (Mélanie Laurent), a cartel hitman code named Three (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a thief and parkour specialist code named Four (Ben Hardy), a doctor code named Five (Adria Arjona), and a Special Forces veteran code named Seven (Corey Hawkins). While the team knows that they will never be remembered, their actions damn sure will.
As I mentioned above, yes, the film undoubtedly has problems, but this just isn’t that kind of flick to consist of logic or themes and to be quite honest if that’s what you are looking for you’re probably in the wrong place. As director Bay’s film is the sort of dumb blockbuster that doesn’t require nor does it expect the viewer to invest too much brain power in watching. It definitely does miss out on getting to have its aggressive energy and visual spectacle on a much bigger screen with surround sound. The film is about being able to showcase as many explosions, stunt sequences and good looking people in the 128 minute run-time.
Right from the start we are launched into the film with a long chase involving stunts, explosions, bullets, flying cars and what not. A great thing to do because, the only constant in this rapidly cut film is that it keeps wearing you down with ambitious and well-designed action sequences but again effortlessly revs up the excitement mode and pulls you right back in. The scene is shocking and jarring and deliriously entertaining, as Ryan Reynolds and Dave Franco, the clear pilots in the prolonged opening sequence, play off each other’s comedic strengths and zany energy while being hopelessly chased by a number of baddies.
The film is admittedly lacking a genuine narrative cohesiveness as the film plays like a series of set pieces in an overlong origin story, but those set pieces are just so gonzo, frenetic and dialed all the way up to 11 that you seriously can’t help but be entertained even though you know that you’re damn well not supposed to take any of what you see seriously.
In the midst of the aural assault of explosion after explosion and classic high-stakes yelling in elaborate heists, we’re treated to a deluge of visual effects. There’s the quintessential 360-degree hero shot, slow motion sequences, and the unbelievably physics-defying stunts. Here, he even experiments with parkour and Go Pro camera. There is a terrific sequence featuring Four which is indeed edge-of-the-seat.
Sure the script has logic holes, and every third shot of any of the female characters has them all looking like Victoria Secret models. You could hardly consider of it to be terribly enlightened or ‘woke’ but it’s undeniably effective and at least here the ladies are getting shot, kicking ass and mixing up with the guys even if it has to be in the most impractical of evening ware.
There is no doubt that writers Wernick and Reese’s script is immature and bare bones, but is also filled with a weird love affair for dated pop culture references, just like the Deadpool. The sequence where Six almost runs over a baby, some puppies, and a group of nuns which is unraveled in an exaggerated slow motion, is the kind of scene that teeters on the crass and cheeky with a wink to the audience, in similar Deadpool fashion.
Sure, there are characterizations in flashbacks and voice overs, yet the lack of prevents us from fully appreciate the film in its entirety. While we get tid bits about everyone, very little is known about the doctor only known as Five, whose story the film chooses to skip entirely. We know nothing about her background, her ambitions, or her motivations for joining the group, and the character hardly fares in any of the action scenes either save for the opening scene where she heroically attempts to stitch Two’s wound in a rapidly speeding vehicle, while the latter continues to shoot and ward off the villains. The absence of her story practically relegates her to mere eye candy.
Performance wise, without a doubt, this is Ryan Reynolds‘s show all the way. With his comedic timing that’s so distinct, he is even more instrumental to the film’s success than its barely-there plot, as it clearly hinges on his snarky delivery and the uncanny ability to never take things seriously, almost to the point that the film feels that it was written for him.
Alongside him, Corey Hawkins and Mélanie Laurent do an effective job of carrying the action and any of the heavy lifting that was necessary from a character perspective while Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ben Hardy, Adria Arjona and Dave Franco are effective in their roles. Lior Raz and Peyman Maadi also play their parts efficiently. On the whole, ‘6 Underground’ is a loud and explosive blockbuster mixed with enough Michael Bay formula to appeal to his fans.
Directed – Michael Bay
Rated – R
Run Time – 128 minutes