The following is a review of 6 Underground — Directed by Michael Bay.
If you think the Netflix film-catalog merely consists of Oscar bait and shoddy romantic-comedies, then Michael Bay’s 6 Underground is here to disprove that notion. While Netflix is releasing this year’s batch of awards-worthy dramas — like Marriage Story and The Irishman — they also have their complete antithesis, 6 Underground, ready for quick consumption. Its star, Ryan Reynolds, has been seen in marketing describing the film as the ‘most Michael Bay movie in the history of Michael Bay,’ thus promising an explosion-heavy, no-holds-barred modern action movie from one of the most commercially successful filmmakers in history. Reynolds’ description is apt, however, 6 Underground just isn’t a very good movie.
Michael Bay’s 6 Underground is an unrestrained action film about a vigilante squad of hired guns led by an anonymous billionaire known only as One (played by Ryan Reynolds), who has planned a secret underground mission to topple the government of a country located in Central Asia. One has assembled a squad that, among others, consists of a spy (played by Mélanie Laurent), a sniper (played by Corey Hawkins), a parkour runner (played by Ben Hardy), and a driver (played by Dave Franco).
Filled to the brim with product placement for energy drinks and alcohol, 6 Underground is, admittedly, exactly what Ryan Reynolds has promised. This is an over-the-top Michael Bay action film that doesn’t pull its punches. There are so many explosions, the action scenes go on for ages, and, as always, Bay shoots his female characters from risque low-angles. Though I enjoyed some of the film’s action scenes, there were also very long sequences that almost made me turn off the film. The film opens with a long getaway sequence set in Italy, where Reynolds and his squad are in a lime-green car being driven by a cocky and young driver. Here Bay makes you wish you were watching Baby Driver instead. One of the reasons why is that the sequence feels never-ending, but, most frustratingly, it is so haphazardly edited that it is almost headache-inducing.
Based on a screenplay from Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, the writers of Tim Miller’s Deadpool, Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland, and Daniel Espinosa’s Life, Michael Bay’s latest film is surprisingly and needlessly convoluted. The structure of the film gets in the way of the story. Every once in a while the film backtracks to tell the origin story of one of the members of the vigilante squad, and unless you’re taking notes on the plot, you will eventually get a little bit lost. With Deadpool and Zombieland, Wernick and Reese have shown that they love throwing pop culture references into their dialogue, but these references feel incredibly lazy here. One of the film’s most eye-roll-inducing moments came when Reynolds essentially uses Eminem lyrics to motivate a member of his squad.
With all of this having been said, I did really enjoy watching actors like Ryan Reynolds and Mélanie Laurent in a Netflix action film, and I would be open to watching a sequel if Netflix decides to order one. I’m not the biggest fan of Michael Bay, but I’m not his harshest critic either. I think that his sometimes quite eager music video-inspired style can be quite entertaining. I think his style is suitable for this film, whose concept could kickstart a series of films.
In 2019, Netflix didn’t just give us great, Oscar-worthy dramas. This year, Netflix also gave us Jonas Åkerlund’s obnoxious and immature action film Polar. While 6 Underground is nowhere near as great as Netflix’s best films, at the very least, Michael Bay’s 6 Underground is better than Åkerlund’s disappointing dud. 6 Underground is Michael Bay’s violent, no-holds-barred interpretation of the Fast & Furious and Mission: Impossible-franchises, and, while it is not as entertaining as either of those franchises, 6 Underground works just well enough to make me even a little bit interested in a potential sequel. It is an overblown and over-the-top but ultimately passable action film thanks to the stars (and the director) that made you even a little bit interested in it in the first place.
5.5 out of 10
– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.