TL;DR – An incredibly stylish and well-produced film that just didn’t quite nail the substance portion.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Sometimes in life, you want to shut your brain off for a bit, sit down, and watch some explosions flare to life on your screen. The action flick is the king of this, especially if you pivot it in the direction of an action/comedy. However, today we are looking at a film that should be all this and more, but I walked away feeling that something was missing.
So to set the scene, we open in on a special ops team, which is having a very bad day, because everything is going very wrong, very, very, wrong. This is not your usual black ops team because while black ops teams are sometimes called ghosts, this team is for all intents and purposes are actually ghosts because the world thinks they are all dead. We have One (Ryan Reynolds) The Billionaire, Two (Mélanie Laurent) The CIA Spook, Three (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) The Hit Man, Four (Ben Hardy) The Skywalker, Five (Adria Arjona) The Doctor, and Six (Dave Franco) The Driver. Their aim was to find information out about Rovach Alimov (Lior Raz) a dictator with the predilection for using chemical weapons against civilians.
In the first ten minutes, this film reveals in making sure that you know 100% who is directing this film because it is unapologetically a Michael Bay production. We have entirely unnecessary slow-mo ad pigeons shoot through the air, gratuitous arse shoots, a fluro green car smashes through Florence narrowingly missing babies and puppies in the space of five seconds as nuns flip the middle fingers. The camera lives a world of visual ecstasy, because why be still when you can do anything else. With the marketing of the film referring to it as ‘Enjoy the Bayhem” well on that count, it is right.
With a film like this tone is everything and whether you go all in or bounce off it is going to be dependent on if you jell with the tone. For me, what makes the film work as well as it does is the cast that is all really compelling. I’m personally a fan of Ryan Reynolds, so his suave, comedic, deadpan delivery is a real joy. I also really liked a lot of the completely chaotic banter between the team, it didn’t always work, but when it does it is a lot of fun. Another stand out for me was Ben Hardy, who has to do some of the big emotional lifting in places and pulls it off quite well.
On a technical level, it was good to see the film explore more practical effects augmented with digital features. There are some really compelling parkour sequences, this film really likes its parkour. As well as this you better believe there are explosively flipped cars, pirouetting through the night sky surrounded in flames. A good example of this blend is with some great use of water to kill a bunch of fools and they used a lot of water in that stunt. Not everything worked as well, but you kind of know that they are not going to race through the Uffizi in reality, so the cars looking a little off you can kind of ignore for a bit.
However, where the film falls down is in the substance. While flying magnet knives and nearly every movie reference under the sun is cool and can cover over a lot of sins, they can’t fix everything. To begin with they can’t seem to decide what sort of country Tugistan is. Is it a former Soviet republic, is it a Gulf State, is it Syria? It is a composite country of all three and more but they have created it in a tonally inconsistent way. The motivations of the characters are haphazard and don’t have a clear definition. To add to this, it’s unfortunate that the film wants to have something to say about chemical weapons and their use by dictators but then spends the rest of the film fetishizing explosions at every moment.
In the end, do we recommend 6 Underground? Well in some respects this is a big well-produced tent poll action flick and if you like big tent poll actions flicks that land in the American R rating zone, then you will probably enjoy it. For me, while I did have some fun with it, I just came away feeling it was lacking, more style over substance, and that was a real shame.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of 6 Underground
Directed by – Michael Bay
Written by – Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese
Music by – Lorne Balfe
Cinematography by – Bojan Bazelli
Edited by – William Goldenberg, Roger Barton & Calvin Wimmer
Production/Distribution Companies – Skydance Media, Bay Films & Netflix
Starring – Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ben Hardy, Adria Arjona, Dave Franco, Corey Hawkins, Lior Raz, Payman Maadi, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Kim Kold, Lídia Franco, James Murray, Lukhanyo Bele & George Kareman
Rating – Australia: MA15+;