What can be said about Michael Bay that haven’t been said before? He has directed fourteen films, most of which were commercial successes. However, they have been met with such critical derision, it would not be hard to argue Bay is the most hated director currently alive. His five Transformers movies are the ones he is best known for, despite him not having the same amount of care and interest as he did with his best works like The Rock. With those transforming robots out of his system (although he will be directing an adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson’s novel Robopocalypse) ,Bay makes his film debut at a popular streaming service. Is Netflix the new home for Bayhem?
6 Underground takes place four years after the horrors of a brutal regime in the Middle Eastern nation of Turgistan. An unnamed American billionaire and philanthropist known as One (Ryan Reynolds) fakes his own death after witnessing what has happened. One forms an anonymous vigilante squad to take down criminals and terrorists that governments will not touch. Recruiting five other people to abandon their pasts and join his cause as “Ghosts”, One’s mission is to stage a coup d’état for a better future.
Netflix has become the new equivalent of direct-to-video movies and the new home for accomplished directors like Martin Scorsese to find the financing to make the films they want to make. Bay has certainly found his new home to embrace his R-rated sensibilities. The script is written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who gave us the two Deadpool movies. (Reynolds is also a producer.) Known for having a black sense of humor, you do get the sense that Reese and Wernick are a match made in heaven with Bay, whose own sense of humor can be inconsistent and not always pleasant.
In typical Bay form, it opens with an action sequence, specifically a car chase in Florence, Italy. The scene establishes our six protagonists, who try their best not to run everyone over. Obviously, people do get run over whilst cars are flipping with a touch of gore thrown in. Right away, Bay sets a tone. which can be all over the place. That one scene shifts from being outright gory and funny to another being serious and political. What political thoughts does Bay have? He is more interested in showing off his commercial instincts as his filmmaking is more in line with commercials and music videos. This is most evident in the brief flashbacks of each of the Ghosts.
As a globe-trotting adventure, this is the closest Michael Bay will get to making a Mission: Impossible movie. However, Bay doesn’t have a great grasp with geography. Since the film keeps moving at a quick pace, it can be hard to detect where the characters are. Bay’s approach to directing action is the feel of the situation, which can be intense, even if the frantic editing is too much. Action sequences like the Honk Kong heist reminds you what a good action director Bay is. The sequence showcases the six protagonists, doing their set of skills and how they go through the obstacles that can cost them their lives.
What’s weird is that a lot of issues from Bay’s Transformers are present here, though some of which aren’t as problematic as before. Part of it has to do with the characters, who may be at each other’s throats, but Bay is showing interest in their dynamic. Reynolds may be the big star and is incorporating some of his Deadpool-isms here, but it is his co-star Manuel Garcia-Rulfo gets some of the biggest laughs. Although the female players get the short end of the stick, in terms of development, Mélanie Laurent establishes herself as a kick-ass action star, who can look glamorous whilst carrying a gun.
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