6 Underground - Michael Bay dials James Bond, Ethan Hunt and Jason Bourne up to eleventy-stupid
2 out of 5
When you buy a ticket to see a film in the cinema, there is a good chance you will stay to the end, irrespective of how bad it is. With films on Netflix, not so much. How many of us have started a film only to turn it off ten minutes later. It's too easy to do at home. So the challenge for films produced for Netflix is to capture your attention immediately and hold it. Well, with Netflix's newest big name release 6 Underground, it follows hot on the heels of The Irishman and Marriage Story, both of which had strong first ten minutes. ^ Underground does not have Martin Scorsese at the helm but it does have Michael Bay and we know he can do loud, frenetic action with whiplash editing that will grab your attention immediately. The only reason the film gets two stars is because of the opening car chase. Watch it for this alone. Paul Greengrass would be envious.
Netflix reportedly gave Michael Bay $150m to make this, slightly less than the $175m that The Irishman cost. It's being released among a slew of new releases on the subscription service. To save me trying to summarise, the plot, let me be lazy. Let me steal Michael Bay's description:
"What's the best part of being dead? It isn't escaping your boss, your ex, or even erasing your criminal record. The best part about being dead...is the freedom. The freedom to fight the injustice and evil that lurk in our world without anyone or anything to slow you down or tell you "no." 6 Underground introduces a new kind of action hero. Six individuals from all around the globe, each the very best at what they do, have been chosen not only for their skill, but for a unique desire to delete their pasts to change the future. The team is brought together by an enigmatic leader (Ryan Reynolds), whose sole mission in life is to ensure that, while he and his fellow operatives will never be remembered, their actions damn sure will."
Think Jason Bourne (without the clever plot) meets Mission Impossible (without the Tom Cruise effect) meets James Bond (without the cool, suave coolness). The plot is woeful. The acting even more so. There is zero chemistry between the crew. Ryan Reynolds channels his inner Deadpool/Pikachu for this one. It's starting to get tedious.
Michael Bay is doing what he does best: loud, bombastic, nonsensical violence. To be fair, he does adapt his usual approach to suit the small screen format. He takes us to exotic locations, shows us glamorous femme fatales, lingering lingerie shots and action - lots of action. Did I mention the script is terrible? It's written by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese who wrote both Deadpool films and Zombieland. This script lacks the sharp wit of any of these.
This is a one star film that gets a second star just for that opening car chase.