Starring Ryan Reynolds, Adria Arjona, Melanie Laurent, Ben Hardy, Corey Hawkins, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Dave Franco
The last decent Michael Bay movie was Transformers (2007). Since then the action director has delivered a buffet of discardable sequels and ornamental Wal-Mart shelf one-offs. Up to now, everything was done under the studio system, and while it’s true the 2013 Pain & Gain (based on a very violent true story) was an attempt to break out of a cycle, it didn’t work. 6 Underground is Bay’s first film for Netflix, and the second most expensive film they have produced. It’s an excessive action film that opens on a 10 minute car chase scene that reduces any stunt in the 8 Fast & Furious films to go-kart levels. It’s an “everything but the kitchen sink” type flick that uses fast paced editing to overload your senses. Laurent (Now You See Me) is a particular standout, Corey Hawkins (BlackKklansman) is serving the Will Smith type role, while Ben Hardy (Bohemian Rhapsody) is the blond damsel in distress.
The Billionaire, or “One” (Reynolds), insists his team go by the numbers in which they join the top secret group he has created. After all, their real persona’s have been declared dead to their families and the public. To join you must die because a ghost can do the dirty work the living can’t. The Driver (Franco), CIA Spook (Laurent), Doctor (Arjona), Sky Walker (Hardy) and The Hitman (Rulfo). Their aim is to rid the world of the worst humans, the people governments can’t touch for one reason or another. Their latest target is a dictator in the Middle East, created by the US, armed by Russia, they aim to supplant him with his imprisoned brother and restore democracy to the people. Their latest recruit is former US Military “Seven” (Hawkins), who doesn’t subscribe to the rules “One” has established, creating friction among the vigilante family.
It’s an excessive action film that opens on a 10 minute car chase scene that reduces any stunt in the 8 Fast & Furious films to go-kart levels.
Reynolds campy comedy quips and Deadpool-esque demeanor makes him the films least enjoyable aspect. Thankfully 6 Underground isn’t a film about what his or other characters are doing as much as it is about how they do it. The “how” translates to technical achievements with more practical effects than Bay has relied on in the past. No other film this year can match the stunts seen here or the level of violence. Now whether that’s a compliment or a detractor is up to the viewer. Netflix allows Bay to push boundaries that studio films wouldn’t, but again, a double edge sword, the unlimited control here means everything is a go. Every car accident or death is shown in gory detail, at one point it even rains steel beams on people and cars below. The running time is over two hours, typical both for Bay action films and Netflix original movies.
6 Underground carves out its own space in the action genre, managing to top the opening scene with more unconventional ideas throughout the running time. Sure the names for numbers ideology and the title are foolish. The first fifteen minutes of explaining the who and why with flashbacks is confusing and off putting. Arjona (Triple Frontier) is given the least to do of all the actors with her character being the least developed. The endless blaring club music playing through the action sets will again either add or detract depending on taste, but one thing 6 Underground avoids is boredom. The script is cheeky as it quotes other movies in ironic situations, but perhaps it’s most clever moment arrives when the iconic THX sound effect is used as a gag.
Michael Bay’s 6 Underground carves out it’s own space in the action genre.