6 Underground (2019) Review

It’s Bayhem as usual and he got a hefty US$150 million budget that allows him to blow things up in a spectacular, often over-the-top fashion. Just witness the first 15 minutes or so involving an elaborate car chase scene tearing through the busy streets of Florence, Italy. We get all the usual explosions, vehicles flipping like crazy in the mid-air and bodies gets smashed or crushed in the utmost brutal ways imaginable.

Michael Bay loves to go all gratuitous as well, punching up hyper-stylised slo-mo shots every now and then. Case in point, there’s a scene where one of the characters fired a grenade launcher towards the car and it doesn’t stop there. We even get to witness the grenade whooshes past the driver’s face through the window right before it blows the car to pieces. He also sure loves to crank up scenes of graphic violence whenever he can (e.g. a flashbang gets shoved in the mouth and blows a guy’s head like a watermelon). It’s like as if Bay directs his movie while getting all jumpy after drinking a crate of energy drink.

While Bay goes batshit crazy with his action sequences, he seems to forget about telling a good story. No, not even a decent one. Despite getting the Zombieland and Deadpool screenwriting duo involved, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s screenplay feels like it was written on the fly. Netflix’s 6 Underground is just as simple as it goes: A mysterious billionaire nicknamed One (Ryan Reynolds) recruits his own team of mercenaries with different backgrounds and taking down big-time criminals in a vigilante-style.

And that’s it. Bay doesn’t even bother to have a proper build-up when comes to character development. Each of the team member’s backstory is either glossed over or plain non-existent. There’s hardly any chemistry between them as a team, despite all their profanity-laden quips and such.

When the movie takes a breather during the non-action moments, exposition-heavy scenario kicks in with a non-linear narrative structure and numerous flashbacks just to spice things up. But it’s all painfully superficial since it’s more like killing time before we get to the next big set-piece. Which makes me wonder the 128-minute running time could have used some serious trimming. Besides, if Bay’s intention is wanting us to sit back and enjoy the mindless action movie extravaganza, the trick is to ensure the pace lean and tight enough to keep us engaged.

Ryan Reynolds gets the top billing here and even his usual wisecracking presence can’t really save this movie. You can forget about the rest of the actors either. Still, what keeps me preventing from clicking away halfway is Bay’s impressive technical point-of-view. Sure, we still get the same jittery camerawork and over-edited action setpieces. But at least, the shots are mostly coherent and thankfully not in the incomprehensible level previously seen in Transformers: The Last Knight (2017).

That’s the least good thing I can say about this movie. But wall-to-wall action alone clearly isn’t enough to overcome most of the movie’s glaring weaknesses.