6 Underground

Release: Friday, December 13, 2019 (Netflix)

→Netflix

Written by: Paul Wernick; Rhett Reese

Directed by: Michael Bay

It’s my fourth week of isolation and while we’ve got a way to go still before we can socially un-distance, I’m pretty sure I’ve just hit a low point. I am now inviting Michael Bay in to my living room to give me some company. What an insult to Tiger King that I prioritized this spectacle of awfulness over it. Bay’s latest happens to be his first ever direct-to-streaming offering, so I thought there might be something different about 6 Underground. Something, oh I don’t know, more restrained about it. That’s cute, Tom.

6 Underground vomits two hours of non-stop destruction of city monuments and human bodies that could have been trimmed to 90 minutes if you cut out all the fancy slow-motion shots. In what passes as a story barely held together by duct tape editing, a crew of six (or is that seven?) vigilante agents fake their own deaths in order to take on the Great Evils of the world without having to deal with all the government red tape. In this movie, one of an inevitable many, the bad guy is a tyrannical dictator named Rovach Alimov (Lior Raz), who rules a fictitious Middle Eastern country through brutal violence and threatening the people through state-run media.

These ghost agents aren’t referred to by their names but rather their numbers, because getting personal proves really tricky when you’re busy saving the world. ‘One’ is a billionaire played by Ryan Reynolds. He’s Team Leader and this quasi-genius who has made his fortune on magnets. The half of 6 Underground that isn’t spent on things blowing up in a fireworks display or peering up women’s skirts is dedicated to a sloppily constructed, disorienting montage where we learn how the others have been seduced into contributing to his humanitarian efforts. ‘Two’ (Mélanie Laurent) is a CIA spy; ‘Three’ (Manuel Garcia-Rolfo) a hitman; ‘Four’ (Ben Hardy) a parkour runner/thief; and ‘Five’ (Adria Arjona) a doctor.

The story begins with an Italian job gone to hell that culminates in their driver/’Six’ getting violently and fatally impaled, meaning Dave Franco gets a mercifully small role to play in this farce. He’s replaced by an Army sniper (Corey Hawkins) who is suffering survivor’s guilt after a mission in Afghanistan goes wrong. He’s brought in to the fold as ‘Seven,’ but mostly serves as a conduit through which we learn how the others were drafted and how there are advantages to this whole “being dead” thing. The actors do what they can with bland characters who riff on this whole concept of being gone and forgotten. Meanwhile, back and forth and up and down and side to side the narrative goes, one that’s so unfocused it is hard to believe it’s created by the writers of Deadpool and Zombieland.

Structurally, this action thriller is three 40-minute-long action sequences occasionally interrupted by a few moments of respite where the main goals are established with some F**k You’s thrown in to make sure you know this is an R-rated picture. Within those action sequences there are some memorable set pieces, such as the infiltration of a high rise in Hong Kong where the gang must capture the aforementioned dictator’s younger, nicer brother Murat (Payman Maadi). The granddaddy of them all, however, is the billion-dollar yacht that gets turned into “the world’s biggest magnet” and serves up a number of creative, intensely violent kills.

6 Underground is a gorgeous looking movie. That’s straight-up fact. Bay blitzes you with scenery featuring grand architecture sparkling in the blood orange sunsets. There are some pretty inventive camera angles that throw the chaos in your face as if you yourself are about to get bisected by some random object. If you pay attention, you might even see a shot of some camels in their natural element! But in the way Laurent is forced into stripping down for a pointless sex scene between two dead people, 6 Underground and its entire cast suffer from Bay’s fixation on artifice. Bonus points if he can get all these good-looking people splattered in the blood of the soon-to-be-not-living.

It’s a still frame, but you can still detect the slow-mo

Recommendation: Queue it up on Netflix for you to knock out on Quarantine Day #309. Don’t be a Tom. Don’t be in a such a hurry to watch Michael Bay indulge in all his worst excesses. 6 Underground is a total mess, a bad movie even by his standards.  

Rated: R

Running Time: 128 mins.

Quoted: “They say that your soul departs when you pass. Well, for us, it was the opposite. The moment nothing to lose became something to gain. And the whole wide world seemed a little less haunted.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: IMP Awards; IMDb 

8 thoughts on “6 Underground

  1. I finally watched this last night, inspired by rewatching The Rock, which I think is a genuinely great action movie, and… well, 6 Underground ain’t that. I do think it’s better than most of the Transformers movies, though, so I guess Bay is trending upwards… maybe… So, yeah, I have to admit to enjoying parts of this, especially the opening car chase; and, as you say, it does look very pretty on an entirely superficial level.

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    • I thought there were a few pretty good action bits. There’s no denying Bay can shoot a pretty intense chase sequence or literally and figuratively explosive combat scenes. 6 Underground is just basically nothing but that — like I wonder if this is what Bay considers his version of The Raid?

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  2. Haha yeah. This is a stinker. You’ve got to be dead to the world to actually consider it worthy of anticipation. As someone who has enjoyed Michael Bay in the past and will still actually somewhat defend some of them…this was as stereotypically Bay as they come.

    🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮😷😷

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    • I’ll concede I have a soft spot for early Michael Bay, like Armageddon and Bad Boys. Even those movies though could be so much better than what they are, but we totally agree — 6 Underground is Bay unhinged.

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  3. Ha Ha well Tom I did warn you about Bay’s masterpiece. Netflix really let Bay loose didn’t they, the crazy bastards. I remain terrified of an eventual sequel- imagine if they somehow managed to make this thing into a trilogy? 8 Underground, 10 Underground… Bay working with Stalllone, or Arnie, or Statham…

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    • I blame the lockdown for my poor choice. I had to go back and read what you wrote, and wow we’re pretty much stride for stride on this. And you can bet your bottom dollar there’ll be multiple movies spun out of this. Bay has a legion of followers, which is depressing to think about but it’s true. And as observed in a recent post I read (either by you or BadBlokeBob, sorry for not remembering!), Netflix really doesn’t give a damn about quality so long as they have the eyeballs on their products. The lockdown is nothing short of Christmas for streaming services.

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  4. I don’t know about you, but the list of new releases that I’d actually recommend has been severely lacking this past month. I actually plunked down $20 to watch Trolls World Tour. Ok, it’s fine if you’re 6, but I could’ve been watching “No Time to Die” this weekend in an alternate universe. With theatres closed for the foreseeable future, Hollywood needs to stop dragging its feet and start making more “blue-chip” titles available on VOD.

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    • That’s an essay worth writing I think. I’ve seen a few new-ish titles appear on On Demand (Invisible Man most interests me) but it’s hard to justify the price for those in-home releases. I don’t buy into this thinking that the “in home world premier” thing is going to be the way of the future. A great many people still want to go out to experience movies on the big screen. Like, who would actually want to experience any of the upcoming Marvel Phase 4 and beyond movies on their TV for the first time? While none of those movies are going to rise to the epic level of the Infinity War saga you lose so much of the spectacle on a TV set, no matter how sophisticated one’s home theater set-up is.

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