Michael Bay, he really hasn’t grown much as a director, has he? Like me wrapping presents. I do it every year, yet I never seem to get any better at it.
Not growing as a director is fine for some, I guess. I mean, Roger Corman was a schlock director who found his niche, making enjoyable trash. Michael Bay is really no different with his own brand of trash. Though one thing that I can never shake while watching his movies, it’s just how dated they always feel.
All his films seem stuck in one time period, from late 90’s to early 2000’s. Even as trends change, things get passé or cliché, Michael Bay just sticks to his guns and does what he thinks he does best and that’s blow shit up and have sexy ladies strike sexy poses. Sometimes while things are exploding.
One watch of any of his films and you get this feeling Michael Bay is this man-child that never grew up. Even though 6 Underground was written by the writers of Deadpool and Zombieland, you almost get the feeling that this was a parody of Michael Bay movies, but Michael Bay wasn’t let in on the joke.
I can’t say I’m the biggest Bay fan, but I can’t say he’s the worst either. I can’t think of another director that receives such vitriol more than Michael Bay. It’s like he fucked their mother or something. You’re never going to be my stepdad, Michael Bay!
Hate him or not, you have to admit he does have a certain aesthetic that shines and makes him stand out. I mean it would if guys like Zack Snyder or J.J. Abrams didn’t exist.
I’m actually shocked Michael Bay hasn’t been tapped to direct a Fast and the Furious film, you’d think he’d be perfect for that franchise as those films are basically one giant love letter to Michael Bay. Though the thing that makes those films so enjoyable is the fact they are pretty self-aware. Self-aware is something I’m not so sure Michael Bay is.
Hence, why I think 6 Underground is a film mocking him, he just never realized it.
So 6 Underground, Netflix’s big budget action film, how is it? Well, it was better than Bright, but with maybe equal or more systemic problems throughout. In other words, this film is a damn mess, but I found it to be a really enjoyable mess. Be damned the plot holes or the wonky character motivations or the absence of characters altogether. When watching a Michael Bay film, you must forego those luxuries and focus on the things you do have. Lots and lots of things blowing up and in this film’s case, horrific violent kills.
You would think seeing cars crashing and people cascading out of the crash and usually into something else also crashing would get old fast, but it was electric each time you see it happen. Especially the end where people are literally getting tossed around left and right like ragdolls.
The first thing the film does is kill Dave Franco in the first 15 minutes of the film. It’s shocking, not only because he’s the only other actor I recognized in the movie, but because it keeps the audience on edge. If they can kill him off without batting an eye, then no one on this team is safe. So you are constantly worrying about who will get offed off next.
A few years back, and by a few I mean maybe 10 years or so, maybe longer, an author was on the Daily Show promoting a book about this group of yuppies in the 80’s who didn’t have much to do, this was the 80’s so there wasn’t a ton of things to be an activist about, no real big cause to get behind, so these real life group of guys decide to take on the mob. Basically becoming vigilantes, killing mobsters. It always stuck with me, as it would make for a fantastic movie plot.
Well… I’m not saying 6 Underground is that movie, but in the 10+ years since I’ve heard that plot described to me, this is the closest we’ve come to it.
For some half assed reason, One, played by Ryan Reynolds, a multibillionaire, decides to fake his death, so he can put together an elite team of killers and assassins to take out problematic figures around the world.
I say half assed reason because, now this is getting into spoilers sooner than usual, so bear with me as this is kind of important as it doesn’t make a lick of sense. You find out at the end of the film, One has a family, a wife and kid. So what exactly is his reasoning to leave them all behind? The only explanation we get is while doing a photo op for some humanitarian aid in a war torn country, the refugee camp he was in was attacked by sarin gas.
Because of it, he wants to abandon his family? What?
I thought maybe he was fixated on this dictator because his wife was there in the refugee camp with him with his kid and they died during the attack. That would make a whole hell of a lot more sense. But nope, they are perfectly fine. So basically he left them so he could go around the world and kill people.
We really learn nothing about this character throughout the film, and nothing we eventually learn justifies his decision to start this team.
Speaking of the team, there are 6 of them, but we only learn about maybe 3 of them and even that is very vague.
On this team are Two, a… I want to say French ex-CIA agent, if that makes any sense. We learn nothing about her background or how she joined this team.
However we do find out how Four joined the team, as he is a parkour thief that joins because… I don’t know. But he’s just a thief that quickly elevates into a ruthless killer as he kills countless people in this.
Three is a cartel hitman that joins because he wishes to save his soul. He also starts up a romance with Two. He’s also the number one contender to be the next member on the team to bite the bullet.
Then there is Five, who we learn nothing about, aside from she’s a doctor. That’s it.
Six was Dave Franco, the driver, we also learn nothing about him as he dies in the first 15 minutes, like I mentioned. That brings us to the final member on the team, Seven, an ex-sniper who is haunted by the fact he didn’t take the shot that would have saved his entire team from getting killed in a suicide attack.
After Six dies, One goes to him to join their team, giving him another purpose to live.
Another issue I had, that even the film brings up is how does One find them? It would make sense that Two was the one who picked these people out, seeing as she was a CIA agent. Everyone is named in order that he recruited them, so it would make sense he’d use her access to track these people down. But that isn’t the case at all.
With Four, One just shows up after Four falls to his death after a heist gone wrong.
Anyway, back to the mission at hand. The team’s first mission together was to go after this dictator’s lawyer. When he refuses to give them the info they need, they cut out his eye and I guess have to shoot their way out of the building, as Two has been shot in the gut and is bleeding out.
The team’s main goal is to take down dictator Rovach Alimov and his four generals. With the generals meeting in Las Vegas, they are able to make quick work of them and get the location of Murat Alimov, Rovach’s brother who he imprisoned for wanting to overthrow him.
The plan is to break Murat out and prop him up as the new leader of Turgistan, the fictional country this film is centered around.
One and Seven butt heads a bit, as he finds One’s cold demeanor troubling, especially when the order is to leave behind whoever gets caught.
Their next mission is to break Murat out of the luxury apartment that has more guards than a supermax prison.
Four, our sneaky parkour thief, sneaks into the apartment unnoticed, thanks to a nearby crane that Seven has also taken position at with his sniper rifle. He takes out anyone who gets close to Four as he makes his way to Murat, who is reluctant to leave.
He isn’t given much choice as the guards are quickly alerted and has now become a giant fire fight between the security forces and Two and Three doing the groundwork. Three messed with his gas mask, making him fall victim to their own laughing gas attack.
Eventually they manage to get out of there, Four handing off Murat to Three who can’t stop punching him in the face.
The team makes it out alive, but has to leave Four behind and fend for himself. Seven eventually gets through to One and forces him to help him.
Now for the final part of their plan, which seems oddly convoluted. They wish to highjack the government news satellite, instead of broadcasting Rovach’s speak to his oppressed people, they get a message from Murat, insisting this is the time to rise up and overthrow the ruthless dictator.
To pull this off, they need to get into the satellite station, highjack the broadcast, and then crash the party Rovach is having on his giant yacht. But not just that, they also arm themselves with plastic body armor and weaponry. Why? Well, because One made his fortune with magnets and the way he plans to take out the army of security on the ship is to weaponized extremely powerful magnets.
Is it dumb? Sure. But this falls under the forego logic as long as it looks cool category. And boy howdy does this look cool. Aesthetics over substance is Michael Bay’s middle name.
When the magnets activate, every guard wearing Kevlar is thrown against the wall, incapacitating them.
Four once again gets caught and needs saving, instead of going after Rovach, One rushes to save Four and Rovach gets away by boat, or so we think. Flying the helicopter looking to spirit Rovach is actually being piloted by our team.
The country has now been freed from his tyranny, dropping Rovach off for the people to deliver some much needed justice.
I guess the film does a good job setting you up for more future 6 Underground films, though maybe it would work a bit better if this was a mini series, each episode giving us background on a member of the team, much like how Black Summer, another Netflix original, went about introducing their characters.
As it stands, we are given way too little about these people. We have no clue what their motivations are. What was Two’s deal? It’s shown that she was the one who handed over Murat to his evil brother, even though Murat never acknowledges this when they meet again. I guess maybe she felt guilty for working with this dictator… At least with Seven, we get his motivation, the only one who we actually get a backstory with. He feels guilty for not saving his team. He’s about as fleshed out as we need him to be.
Three, the hitman, he wasn’t all that complicated either. He was a hitman for the cartel, he has a mom with dementia. That’s all we get and that’s good enough, for now. I have no clue who Five was, she’s just hot doctor lady.
The action, Bay might have gone a bit overboard, as some scenes you’ll see shit explode before cars even crash into anything. At one point a car flies into the air and crashes back down, exploding but the explosion happens before the car lands, making it look like a bunch of boxes just started exploding for no reason.
And the kills, they range from hyper violent to elaborately violent. Maybe it’s because Bay has been doing kiddy Transformers films for the last 10 years but this might be the most violent film he has ever done. I’ve never been a fan of Bad Boys, so I don’t remember how this stacks up, but I’m going to say in an arm wrestling contest, 6 Underground wins.
I also really enjoyed the scene on the boat with the magnets, as stupid as it was, it did something different instead of just rushing in and shooting everybody, which we already saw at the luxurious apartment scene previously. So it gets some creativity points from me.
If you’re looking for something fun to watch, give 6 Underground a watch. I give it a SEE IT. I know, kind of a high score, I was going to slap a RENT IT on it, but the more I thought about the film, the more I felt compelled to recommend it to people. Not exactly a Christmas movie but one worth checking out if there’s some time to kill.
I’ll be back with Star Wars… or Cats… you’ll have to come back and see which one I do.
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