More noise than signal

6 Underground

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

For someone on a film podcast, I spend surprisingly little time reading up on what’s in the pipeline, so news of Netflix tapping Michael Bay to helm this extravagantly be-budgeted action flick passed me by until Craig mentioned it last week. Not that I’d be all that interested in what Mr. Bay is up to anyway, but I suppose there’s some morbid curiosity in what he can concoct with $150 million to burn.

6 Underground very much starts as it means to on, with a fifteen minute car chase with more shootings, stunts, crashes, quips and fast cuts than most action films fit into their entire run time. For about seven and a half of those minutes, it’s exhilarating, and for the rest, it’s exhausting. And again, very much as it means to go on.

With that out of the way we get into the very little that passes for character and plot, as largely through flashbacks we find out how Ryan Reynolds’ tech billionaire puts together an anonymous team to dispense the sort of vigilante justice governments are not able to. He’s faked his death, alongside the other recruits, to put together a family of untraceable ghosts, those others being Mélanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ben Hardy, Adria Arjona, and Corey Hawkins, now calling themselves a number and not a free man.

This was prompted by Reynolds’ character, One, witnessing an airstrike on the refugee camp he was visiting on a philanthropic PR exercise in his prior life, so he has resolved to take down the man ultimately responsible, the dictator of Val Verde and put his less objectionable brother in power. Again, through the mediums of crashing cars, shooting people and sinking yachts. It’s not a subtle plan.

I guess what little in the way of instruction from Netflix was to take Fast and the Furious and Deadpool and mash them together, and weld over the join with explosions, and by golly, that’s what’s been delivered. It is, as you should expect, squarely inside the little sub-genre of Michael Bay action films, and, well, I’m not sure there’s all that much point delving into it all that much. You probably know if that’s the sort of thing you like by now.

It’s all glossily captured explosions and beautiful people and shootings and beautiful locations and car crashes, and you can absolutely see all that money on the screen, briefly, before it it destroyed. The addition here is an almost nonstop stream of quips, primarily, of course, from Reynolds, which alongside the more deliberately ludicrous shots give this the breezy, light comedic ultraviolence vibe of a Deadpool. How well that works will depend on your tolerance for, well, Reynolds, mainly.

Clearly not in the budget was any sort of depth for the characters or plot, all of which are the minimally viable framework to explode things with, and, well, look, you get the point. In the world of big dumb action movies it is about as big, and certainly as dumb as they come, and if you’re in the market for that it will scratch the itch.

I can’t say I cared enough about it one way or the other to give you any stronger opinion on it – the first fifteen minutes numbed me to the rest of it, perhaps, and I’m instead left only with a vague sense of dissatisfaction that so much money was spent to have so little lasting impact. Even when writing these notes, I’ve spent reading about 60’s cult TV show The Prisoner and the Sneaker Pimp’s post 1997 career because they’re less ephemeral. Netflix’s search for a mass-market film franchise will need to continue, I imagine. Meh out of ten.