Michael Bay is one of those filmmakers everybody loves to hate and yet sometimes we can’t get enough of him. We want him to make a film that doesn’t decrease our intelligence or at least doesn’t insult our intelligence. But dumb and brainless can be fun and entertaining right? In some cases in regards to Michael Bay’s filmography, it can. Now! Out of the 14 films he has directed, I have liked and enjoyed half of them and one of them includes the first Transformers, which is actually pretty decent. The franchise seemed like it was going fine. And then it was going steadily downhill in the preceding years when new ones were released every 2 or 3 years. We often were in awe at the trailers that were shown and we marvelled at the action sequences shown in them. We then finally go to the cinema hoping that Michael Bay learnt his lesson and listened to all the negative press about why people didn’t like his previous film. But you know. It’s Michael Bay and he sticks to his guns and doubles down on all the aspects people don’t like about his films. Then it just becomes a hate watch, which is how I felt about the last two Transformers films, which were insultingly bad and yet there were some things that I generally thought were competently done. Funny right?
It is pretty fair to say, that no one does action like Michael Bay. In that, the majority of the time, no one does action the way that Michael Bay does it. It can be disorientating and hard to follow which has always been a criticism of his films. Basically, the way they are edited. It really is something to marvel at how crazy the editing is and how many editors were working on this film. But there is a guilty pleasure type charm to the action in his films and in the editing. I will say that often the action works in 6 Underground, the action is chaotic and of course it is an attack on all the senses. But it is stupidly fun and it is wonderfully bonkers and over the top. The opening 20 minute car chase through the streets of Florence, Italy is crazy and operatic and Michael Bay is the crazy conductor high on caffeine and steroids. It is intense and you feel the action, it is strangely immersive. And the colourful cinematography by Bojan Bazelli is tight, lot of close ups and a few extreme close ups. It something to take note in how a lot of the action in Michael Bay’s films are done on location and how he meshes that together with the explosive chaos that is happening in the scenes is pretty well done. The bloody and anarchic opening sets the tone of the film straightaway and it all has this comic book feel about it. It is like Michael Bay looked at the state of cinema today and saw that it was filled with nothing but superheroes. He maybe thought to himself that he could make something out of this script from the Deadpool writers (Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese) and get in on that superhero/vigilante comic book action. If you take Mission Impossible, Fast and the Furious and The A-Team and mix it together with a heck of a lot extra testosterone, you get 6 Underground. Michael Bay is little bit off the chain in this film and maybe that’s because he is making a film for Netflix or that he has been given a script that allows him to be insane and extravagant.
The actors look like they are having a blast. I am also not ashamed to admit that I had a blast watching it for the first time and I have enjoyed watching it again numerous times, even if I do feel that some things could’ve been improved, like the story, editing and such. We are introduced to our characters very quickly. I do feel like some of the characters are very underdeveloped and you don’t feel as attached to them as you would have thought, but the actors do play these roles well enough. Ryan Reynolds is still lovable and enjoyable to watch. His character is a little one dimensional in regards to what really is motivating him to put together a team to go after really bad people. But you get by nonetheless due to Ryan Reynolds’s charismatic charm. Of course he gets all the best lines too, he’s Deadpool. He has to have the best lines. The other actors that surround him are fun and have good chemistry and we do like them. More flashback scenes were needed to establish them further and make the characters engaging. We did need more of that. Corey Hawkins, Ben Hardy and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo give capable and watchable performances with what they have and they prove their worth in a Michael Bay film. You can’t be on the sidelines when making a Michael Bay film. You got to come play and work hard. Those actors do all fit into the world of Michael Bay’s films. The female characters are generally objectified in the films that Michael Bay has directed as the camera does tend to linger on their physique and his excuse is that he is making films for teenage boys and it is all mindless popcorn entertainment. There is of course a bit of that in this film and that is always going to be the case with his films but the actresses Adria Arjona and Melanie Laurent do fine work and look like proper action stars. Melanie Laurent looks right at home in this film. I have enjoyed seeing her in films after her riveting performance in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.
Michael Bay is a blockbuster action filmmaker there is no doubt about that. It has been interesting at times seeing him attempting to branch out of his wheel house with something like 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and Pain & Gain. 13 Hours I enjoyed more. But sadly, he can’t help but fall back on his old formula. There is no sense of adapt and grow with his style. He never really takes a more substantial approach to his films. 6 Underground is fun and it has some great set pieces despite the mad cap editing. It might be a few years too late, it would have fit right at home in the Bad Boys 2 period of Michael Bay’s career. The political side of the film is touched upon slightly, how can we fix the world’s problems? The cynical move that Michael Bay takes is that we might need to get some fairly well trained civilians and arm them with guns. But on the other side of that and we see this at the start, these guys are probably not up to the task and are living out some gun toting fantasy that could get them killed. So Michael Bay is showing the plus side and the negative side of it.
There is nothing about this film I found inhumanely offensive and there is something to take away from it and in my opinion it does hold up to a re-watch. Out of the Michael Bay films I like (Bad Boys 1 & 2, The Rock, 13 Hours, Armageddon and the first Transformers) they do hold up on multiple watches. There is a fun guilty pleasure factor to those films and the action in those films is handled efficiently, to some degree. I would tell people to give 6 Underground a chance. They might enjoy it.