The new Ryan Reynolds/Michael Bay collaboration on Netflix called “6 Underground” is now available for your streaming pleasure. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you mixed “Smokin’ Aces” with “Fast & Furious” and sprinkled it with a little “Mission: Impossible” added with a dash “Atomic Blonde.” Then paired it with a robust Ryan Reynolds and a Michael Bay free of big studio restraint. Then served it with a massive budget as an appetizer, the result would be “6 Underground.”
I’m not going to bother with a synopsis because the story makes little sense. It’s simply a backbone to allow room for as many action-sequences that can be jammed into a two-hour run-time as possible. Reynolds plays One, a billionaire who has a team of unofficial agents who are considered ghosts. They kill bad people and that’s pretty much what they do in this one. Now by traditional standards this movie does a lot of things wrong, yet it also does a lot of things right. It’s a about 45 minutes longer than needed and it’s stuffed with a ton of tropes, and clichés.
Yet, somehow it still ends up being a great time for what it is. An over-the-top action movie in every way possible that is completely self-aware during every level of excessive indulgence. I expected this movie to be wild, but it easily surpassed anything I could’ve expected within the first ten-minutes. It’s a two-hour movie shot like a music video with Michael Bay using every technique in his handbook and I must admit it was fun. Bay can shoot great action and he does here with a barrage of ridiculously spectacular set-pieces that have a variety to them, that fans of action films can enjoy.
The tone is all over the place, it’s one shoot-out, chase-sequence, and explosion after another, and it was all shot by a version of Michael Bay that seemed like a kid in a candy shop with full control to make as insane a movie as possible. It’s a little much at times, and it definitely gets fatiguing with the length. But with the performances, the unpredictable comedic layering, an energetic sense-of-humor, and Ryan Reynolds, I think this movie accomplishes what it set out to be. A parody of all the excess in action movies, that plays to the audience, without being a true parody.
It’s extremely familiar in many places but still ends up being one of a kind. It’s gratuitous on every level and it’s so absurd it’s amusing. But I was still unable to take my eyes away as to not miss what it would do next. Martin Scorsese recently referred to comic-book movies as amusement park rides, but that is only because he hadn’t seen “6 Underground” yet. Because this was a roller coaster ride of unrelenting violence, high body counts, random acrobatic sex, cheesy melodrama, and Michael Bay. Topped with Ryan Reynolds in full action-comedy mode. His screen presence gave it all some validity and I loved it for what it was.
It tosses out the playbook on traditional cinema. It has large flaws in its story and character development. It routinely ignores the laws of physics and gravity, and many other things grounded in common sense. But it was entertaining. With the spectacle on display it’s like a video game movie that isn’t based on a video game, and it works. The cast brings the charisma to the characters and they had a solid chemistry with one another. They each have their own edginess and personality style to make them feel like caricatures of all the action movie baddies they were intended to be.
Michael Bay’s direction is evident at every turn. Each scene is over-stylized with constant lens flares, an over vibrancy of colors and lighting. It has all the Bay camera angles headlined by his love of shooting upward from a lower perspective. There’s plenty of slow-motion, non-stop pyrotechnics, and one of the most horrifically cheesy soundtracks I can remember. The music is so bad it’s comical, and like many other elements of this film it felt intentional. Bloody carnage paired with the playlist from a high-school prom is a weird combination, that on its own had me laughing.
The movie is adrenaline pumping from start-to-finish and it makes routinely odd choices that as the film progresses prove to be the point of it all. It will try to pull on your heartstrings in one scene with sappy melodrama, then juxtapose it with edgy stylized sex, or quirky comedic banter the next. It’s all over the place and it was fun. Despite the structural rules of film-making and storytelling being tossed out the window, this still turned out to be a movie that will take you on a ride. And sometimes that’s what you want. A self-aware film that doesn’t try to give you a new “Mission: Impossible” but instead tries to give you the first “6 Underground.”
6 UNDERGROUND – VIDEO REVIEW