13 December 2019 20:33
Martin Scorsese might be right when he says Marvel movies are "theme parks", but Michael Bay's films make Avengers: Endgame look like Battleship Potemkin. Bay is the latest director to take the Netflix dollar, with the atrocious 6 Underground. Ryan Reynolds plays "1", an anonymous playboy billionaire who founds a vigilante group to effect regime change in a generic Central Asian country called "Turgistan" (there's a "turgid" pun in there somewhere; make your own). While indulging in a spot of voluntourism, 1 witnesses the strongman who rules the country dropping sarin gas on his own people from fighter jets – we never really find out why – and experiences one of cinema's most vapid political awakenings, vowing to fake his own death and go off radar to punish the guy. So he tracks down people with the right skill sets, convinces them to also fake their own deaths and join him (or something?) and sets about dismantling the Turgistani regime.
Netflix seems more interested in product placement than a plot or characters that make sense, with Red Bull, Captain Morgan, Heineken and Chopard all showing up very prominently and, presumably, lucratively. Watching 6 Underground is like eating a whole loaf of processed white bread: it sounds all right on paper, maybe, but ultimately there's no nourishment and after a while it makes you sleepy. In fact, Warburtons is probably too nutritious a comparison; watching 6 Underground is like eating cardboard. "How can something so loud be so boring?" I wondered, before making a mental list of action films from the last few years more worth watching than this one. "6 UNDERGROUND" (2019) - Pictured: Ryan Reynolds Photo by: Christian Black/Courtesy of Netflix © Christian Black/Netflix It used to be fashionable for film critics to hate on Michael Bay. Then, after a backlash that tended to focus on how technically proficient he was as a director ("360 degree hero shots are actually really hard," and so on), it was briefly cool to label those who didn't rate him as snobs.
The film's comic moments mostly rely on swearing nuns, swerving in speeding cars to avoid running over children and dogs and destroying priceless Italian sculptures in the Uffizi (side note: someone tell Michael Bay that Apollo And Daphne is usually housed in Rome, not Florence). Bay's films have always revelled in a violently neoconservative aesthetic, where fighter jets are the only way to accomplish regime change and wide-eyed, dark-skinned children clutch charred dolls as Delta Force soldiers in wraparound sunglasses give them lollipops. The only way to help people to freedom, Bay seems to imply, is to drop bombs on them. Of course, there's an ecosystem by which Bay's films do better the more people like me sit there in our black turtlenecks and tortoiseshell glasses and spew out sardonic column inches about how awful they are; ultimately, you're more likely to watch this film now than you were before. But beware: Bay's films span a spectrum of quality that begins with the actually very decent The Rock (at least it's self-aware) and used to end with Pearl Harbor, his worst and most jingoistic. 6 Underground has extended that spectrum and not on the pretty end. Mostly, watching 6 Underground was a stressful experience. 6 Underground is on Netflix now. That could be about to change with Michael Bay's 6 Underground, which arrived on Netflix on December 13. The big-budget action movie centres on a team of international operatives, recruited by a tech billionaire to take out notorious criminals. After the death of Six (poor Dave Franco) in Florence during the movie's hectic opening, One (Ryan Reynolds) recruits army sniper Blaine (Corey Hawkins) – now known as Seven – to his team of 'ghosts' and takes him to their "haunted house" in the Californian desert. One outlines their mission to take out "truly world-class evil motherf**kers" and to "do the dirty work the living can't or won't", showing Seven the team's "target hit board" and adding: "These nine men have been placing too much shit inside the box. The first target on the board is the brutal dictator of "Turgistan", Rovach Alimov (Lior Raz), and it's the team's attempts to take him down – and replace him with his democracy-loving brother Murat (Peyman Maadi) – that forms the plot of 6 Underground. Unusually for an action movie, the team's plan works with minimal fuss. They have to be resourceful at times, but they manage to rescue Murat from Hong Kong – where Rovach had been keeping him under guard in a luxury penthouse – and kickstart a revolution in Turgistan. An action-packed finale sees One turn Rovach's yacht into a giant magnet (naturally) and Murat take control of the army, stopping them committing genocide, before the team capture Rovach and give him to the rebels, likely leading to his death. We have no idea who the other eight targets are or if One has a personal vendetta with them, like he did with Rovach, who bombed a hospital that One happened to be visiting at the time before he faked his death. So we can assume that if 6 Underground gets a sequel, then it'll be the second (or more) of these targets who will be the new focus for the team. The team all still alive at the end and we don't really know all that much about them, so a sequel could flesh out their backstories too. But that's it as far as their personal lives go, with the focus in 6 Underground very much on the action. The world and concept has now been established, so Bay could expand the world in a second movie. 6 Underground is now available to watch on Netflix.