Review: “Six Underground” is explosive but mindless fun


Courtesy of Netflix.

Ver Lumod

Michael Bay’s latest action flick “6 Underground” is some solid escapist fun. Just don’t dig deep into the absurdity of it all.

The Netflix film centers on an eccentric billionaire known as “One”, played by Ryan Reynolds, who fakes his death and starts bankrolling an off-the-books special operations team, armed with the freedom to take on the powerful bad guys of the world. This particular team of “ghosts” is composed of CIA officer “Two”, played by Mélanie Laurent, hitman “Three”, played by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, parkour enthusiast “Four”, played by Ben Hardy, doctor “Five”, played by Adria Arjona and former Delta Force sniper “Seven”, played by Corey Hawkins. Their latest mission is to depose the brutal dictator of Turgistan, played by Lior Raz, and then replace him with his admittedly dimwitted, but “preferred alternative” brother, played by Payman Maadi. In typical Bay fashion, this means destroying cities and endangering innocent bystanders (and maddeningly, just forgetting about them).

“6 Underground” is the usual escapist fun from Bay with its share of big explosions and lengthy car chases. One particular highlight of the film is the opening action sequence featuring a mad dash throughout Florence, Italy. The film delves into joyful mayhem, from the notorious Dolby Digital surround sound noise to a gouged eyeball. It also cheekily pays homage to several action films, from “Mission: Impossible” to “Die Hard.” Also, Reynolds delivers the film with his formulaic yet hilarious quips, which comes off as a Deadpool/Elon Musk hybrid.

However, a Michael Bay film is painfully paint-by-numbers. There is also a distinct sense that the film feels like it was made in 2005, which may explain its place on Netflix of all places. Besides the expected explosions, reverence for guns and dizzyingly fast-paced editing, “6 Underground” treats its women as sexual objects, albeit with just a little bit more class in the case of Two and Five. The action, while still entertaining, certainly feels dated in the context of what has passed in the realm of action movies since then, from the coordinated choreography of the “John Wick” movies and the death-defying stunts of the latest “Mission: Impossible” films, which Bay tellingly tries to emulate.

“6 Underground,” like any other Bay film, is notoriously jingoistic. Its politics, also dated, adheres to the oversimplified “us versus them” mentality, which has lost steam in the context of today’s geopolitics. The film’s thin plot, which involves deposing a dictator (from a fictional country whose name is rooted in juvenile humor), is laughably silly considering that nation building is no child’s play. Recent history has shown that it doesn’t take violence “with extreme prejudice” to convert a country into a democracy, much less impose it overnight.

The “superheroes in real life” premise of the film, which obviously capitalizes on one particular franchise, doesn’t even work. In fact, it feels like a video game where One’s team plays to their generic strengths and don’t develop their characters from there. Sure, the arrival of Seven, who abides by the “no man left behind” mantra from his time in the military, inspires the team to treat each other as humans instead of fellow killing machines. But, their overall shallowness does not necessarily redeem them by the end.

“6 Underground” works well as an exercise in escapism, but its overreliance on explosions can be exhausting. Its storytelling, with its excessive dependence on flashbacks to compensate for its insubstantial plot, is frustratingly muddled and its politics and mastery of action sequences is dated. At best, it earns its place in Netflix as a loud screensaver with Reynolds’s trademark quips. What more can you ask for? It’s a Michael Bay film.