Released: 13th December
Seen: 24th December
During the promotional tour for this movie, the star Ryan Reynolds was happy to describe the film as “The most Michael Bay movie ever”. This kind of warning had me worried because I have a bit of a history with Michael Bay movies and the promise of the most Michael Bay movie ever sounds more like a threat than anything. See, I still contend that the last Transformers movie is so bad that it should basically bar Michael Bay from making a movie with a budget that’s above 5 million until he learns how to make a movie… and then Netflix in their infinite wisdom promised to release his latest film 6 Underground and my life is now actively worse because of it. Seriously Netflix, I understand that you need to have content that you own outright because everyone else is taking their content away to put on their own streaming platforms but how hard would it be for you to have just the tiniest bit of quality control. Not much, just enough to stop encouraging Michael Bay to keep making movies.
6 Underground follows a group of vigilantes who all share one thing in common, all of them faked their deaths so they can do vigilante things without anyone stopping them. Because it seems like a great idea, their big mission is to overthrow the dictator of Turgistan. No one hired them to do this, no one officially asked them to do it, they just thought it would be a great idea so it’s what they decided to do. Each one of them has a number for a name and because they’re pretending to be dead, they don’t care if they actually die. Their attempt to make this coup work and replace the dictator will be difficult because there will be a lot of gunfights, a lot of explosions, a lot of sex and also Michael Bay will be directing so you won’t be able to follow a single solitary second of it.
I have never, in my life, seen a film that is this difficult to follow with a plot that’s this simple. It should be easy as hell to follow what’s going on and maybe with a competent director it would be. Michael Bay isn’t one of those directors who cares about basic shit like framing, editing or structure. He doesn’t care if the audience understands what’s going on, as long as they see something blow up in a theoretically cool way. The problem is that the things blowing up are as far from cool as possible because you don’t really see them because everything is shot like Michael Bay has never heard of framing before. Everything is either uncomfortably close or too far away, everything’s at a weird angle and the camera never stops moving to the point of pure irritation. Fortunately, Bay appears to have learned how to keep a consistent aspect ratio this time so congrats on doing that basic thing but everything else is so bad that we’re back to “He shouldn’t be permitted to operate a camera”
It was around the 5-minute mark that I realised I was going to hate this film, but it took up until the scene where Ryan Reynolds describes someone dying from auto-erotic asphyxiation that I started contemplating my life choices. Every scene is painful in several ways. Some scenes are painful to look at, some are painful to follow, some just made me want to start jamming things under my fingernails in a vain attempt to distract me from the pointless stupidity that’s going on. Several scenes are broken up by title cards that seemingly mean nothing, and if they did mean something I do not give a single damn. There’s no pacing, no understanding of how an action scene should be shot. A car chase should be easy as hell to follow so that the audience can understand where everyone is. You should be able to know where the hero is and where all the other people involved in the chase are, this provides tension… 6 Underground doesn’t give a damn if you know who is where, they’ll just get Ryan Reynolds to say something random and funny and hope that distracts you from the incompetence.
This film is an exercise in futility, there’s no point even trying to understand just what’s going on or who we’re meant to care about. Why bother? It doesn’t matter to the people making the film who couldn’t be bothered to do basic framing and editing stuff that would make it possible to understand what the hell is going on. No, let’s just have random explosions and so much quick cutting that the film basically creates its own strobing effect (basically, they don’t actually do full strobes but god damn the editing of some early scenes is dangerously close). It’s badly made on almost every level, to the point where I don’t understand how this is possible with a bunch of professionals… OK, I wouldn’t understand if I had never seen a Michael Bay film before. This is par for the course for him because, say it with me, Michael Bay isn’t good at making movies.
The acting isn’t good either. Ryan Reynolds is fine, he does the exact thing you hire Ryan Reynolds to do and he does it fairly well. Ben Hardy is also borderline acceptable, managing to get out something resembling a joke every now and then but other than those two it’s all just pointless. There aren’t any actual characters in this, there are people who shoot guns and giant bags of meat that we can riddle with holes. That’s it, don’t try to bother understanding people’s motivations or character arcs because they don’t have them. Character arcs are for pussies, this film is about wanton destruction and bad filmmaking and that’s it. That’s all it has going for it.
6 Underground is just another bad Michael Bay movie… AKA a Michael Bay movie. The plot sucks, the editing sucks, the dialogue sucks, the acting sucks, the framing sucks, the ideas suck and the title sucks. Everything about this movie is bad and wrong and for any other director it would be the worst thing on their resume. For Bay? This is average. If you are one of those people who can watch a Michael Bay film without wondering “Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies” then heck maybe you’ll even manage to make it through this with a smile on your face… but if you’re wanting something resembling basic competence, you won’t find an ounce of that here. All you will find is a pointless piece of garbage.