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6 Underground (Ryan Reynolds/Michael Bay) - Review

6 Underground

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

AS audacious as it is self-indulgent, and as bonkers as it is wildly entertaining, 6 Underground is a bewildering yet exhilarating combination of Ryan Reynolds and Michael Bay that could prove to be one of Netflix’s biggest hits yet.

Part Mission: Impossible-style homage, and part greatest hits celebration of both star and director’s greatest assets, the film is wildly self-indulgent and so far over the top that it makes Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw look intelligent by comparison. Yet it somehow works as a wild ride and a dead wrong guilty pleasure.

The team follows a team of freelance mercenaries, led by Reynolds’ inventor-billionaire One, who take it upon themselves to rid the world of its most evil criminals – the type of people that governments can’t and don’t want to touch.

Each team member is identified by another number and a separate skill, whether it’s bulky hitman Number Three (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), parkour-styled daredevil Number Four (Ben Hardy) or curvy CIA Spook Number Two (Melanie Laurent).

When their initial job results in the death of one of their member, the team then recruits ex-Army sniper Number Seven (Corey Hawkins) for a plan that involves the removal of Turgistan tyrant Alimov (Lior Raz) and his replacement by his kinder brother, Murat (Payman Maadi).

But as with all good intentions, not everything goes according to plan. And this being a Michael Bay production, the results are spectacularly excessive.

For starters, the film opens with a 20-minute car chase through the streets of Florence that involves swearing nuns, severed eyeballs, historical monuments and all manner of stylistic bloodshed. Bay doesn’t just have one bad guy team blown up in slo-mo by a grenade bullet, he has said bullet break the driver’s nose and rupture his lip too! And the car-nage isn’t just reserved for the bad guys. Pedestrians are occasionally caught amid the collateral damage as both sides wreak all-out chaos.

Thereafter, there’s a penthouse kidnap that involves a watery escape and gravity-defying parkour stunts and a finale on board a luxury yacht that makes inventive and similarly violent use of magnets.

Reynolds, meanwhile, oversees the mayhem with typically trademark acerbic wit, employing the same kind of ‘wrong’ humour that helped to make his Deadpool incarnation such a success. The guy has charisma and delivers it in spades.

And that’s what’s good about 6 Underground. For if you can’t succumb to the film’s self-conscious absurdity, then you’re in for a bumpy ride, for this also highlights everything that’s bad about a Michael Bay production.

The plot, for instance, is just plain daft and padded out by the action, while the characters barely get time to register amid the relentless set piece delivery. Bay can’t keep his camera still for very long, yet still manages to drop in gratuitous shots of the female form as if the #MeToo movement never existed. While his politics are ethically and morally dubious.

And he also self-references like crazy, with several of his Transformers set pieces being revisited and revised for extra intensity. You could call it lazy. But there’s something jaw-dropping about the way he can riff on a signature style delivery and still deliver thrills.

Hence, as excessive and offensive as 6 Underground knowingly is, there’s something irresistibly irresponsible about it. You can’t help but be entertained if you get your kicks from the action genre.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 7mins
UK Release Date (Netflix): December 13, 2019