Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 28 January 2020

'6 Underground': do Ryan Reynolds and Michael Bay deliver in the Netflix blockbuster?

The action film hits screens across the world on Friday, December 13

Michael Bay attends the premiere of Netflix's '6 Underground' in New York on Tuesday. AP
Michael Bay attends the premiere of Netflix's '6 Underground' in New York on Tuesday. AP

With a budget of more than $150 million (Dh550m), 6 Underground, which is available to watch on Netflix from Friday, is one of the most expensive films the streaming giant has yet produced.

There’s a reason why Netflix gave action director Michael Bay so much money to spend on the blockbuster: they wanted to make sure that every single moment of it sizzled with spectacle and entertainment, and thus proved once and for all that, no matter the genre, Netflix is the new home for original movies.

As well as putting Bay, who is known for his work on the Transformers franchise, in the director’s chair, Netflix also amassed a star-studded international ensemble. Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds is the main attraction, and he is joined by Melanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ben Hardy, Adria Arjona, Dave Franco and Corey Hawkins, who all fake their own deaths and form a vigilante squad so they can take down the world’s most notorious criminals.

The streaming giant spared no expense when it came to 6 Underground’s shooting locations. Not only did Bay blow-up Florence, Rome and Siena in Italy, but he also spent several weeks filming its elongated climatic action sequence in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Liwa Oasis, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah.

Ryan Reynolds and Michael Bay shot '6 Underground' in the UAE for about a month. Netflix
Ryan Reynolds and Michael Bay shot '6 Underground' in the UAE for about a month. Netflix

But does a combination of a star-studded cast and crew, and exotic locations make it a genuinely enthralling movie?

Like any action extravaganza from Bay, 6 Underground isn’t without its problems. Any characterisation feels forced and there are several occasions when the team’s plan, the film’s plot or the logistics of its action don’t make sense. However, in classic Bay fashion, he manages to pummel you with so much high-octane action that you don’t have enough time to focus on these issues.

The opening scene establishes the tone of the film. Franco drives Reynolds through the tight streets of Florence in a sports car while being chased by the police, as Arjona tries to retrieve a bullet from Laurent’s stomach in the back seat. Sure, it’s absurd and excessive, but Bay deserves credit for sustaining this tempo and energy for the entire movie.

The director Bay clearly revels in the freedom provided to him by Netflix, as this is much more violent and gory than his previous movies, which have always had to be made with a family audience in mind. Not only do we see many, many deaths throughout, but Bay uses visual effects to explicitly show the painful and very bloody ways in which they perish.

Ultimately, though, 6 ­Underground never rises above mediocre. That’s primarily because it just doesn’t do enough with its premise, as there’s no good reason why the group had to fake their own deaths. Plus, despite re-teaming with Deadpool writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, Reynolds never looks comfortable in the leading role.

It has to be said, though, despite many errors and inconsistencies, 6 Underground never feels tedious or bloated. If you’re looking for disposable and mind-numbing entertainment, then it just about delivers. But with so much talent and money involved, you can’t help but think that it should have been better.

Updated: December 12, 2019 02:09 PM

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