When I first read the synopsis about 6 Underground, I likened it to Mark Wahlberg’s Mile 22, as far as a team of off-grid operatives go anyhow, and as Mile 22 was a complete shambles, I had zero expectations for 6 Underground would be any better. Those instincts paid off as I was tempted to turn it off several times. I think the only reason I didn’t is that I have had an extremely busy and somewhat stressful week and really couldn’t be assed reaching for the remote.
The film is about a team that fake their own deaths in order to make positive changes in the world, lead by tech billionaire – 1 (Ryan Reynolds)
Fair warning, this review does contain spoilers.
For me, 6 Underground is everything that’s wrong with action films today. Almost no meaningful character development, boring villains, no decent puns, and tries too far too hard to seem realistic and stylised. Action directors need to go back to the 80’s and early 90’s and take some notes. One-man-armies with biceps the size of big rig tyres, huge machine guns who take no names and ask no questions. Everything in cinema these days is secret agents or billionaires using high end tech to help them become some form of superhero, or it’s some b-grade attempt at a revival, remake or sequel. It’s a complete bore. 6 Underground is straight to Netflix, but for the most part, the cinema element applies.
For starters 6 underground, most characters were as bland as a plain Jatz cracker.
Ryan Reynolds as 1, for example, what a waste, and let’s be honest, he is a reliable performer, but he does not seem to challenge himself anymore. He just skips from one film to the next wearing the same personality and it’s pretty boring these days. The guy has some real acting chops, but it’s almost like he refuses to use them in favour of just dicking around, which is of course his right, and if the guy is happy, that is all that really matters, I’m personally just sick of seeing the same on-screen persona in all of his films. You can only listen to the word ‘motherfucker’ in the same tone in different films for so long. You could say he’s been typecast, but I would have thought he had the star power to choose more wide-ranging roles. But again, if he is happy, that is all that counts. My opinion should have no bearing on what he does, and nor should it.
Reynolds character of 1 was also the least interesting, as well as being, for me personally the most ridiculously written character. The guy is a tech billionaire who fakes his own death so he can take Ghandi’s advice and ‘be the change he wants to see in the world’. Now, that would be cool if 1 stayed behind the scenes, mysteriously directing his team in from the shadows while creating cool, practical devices for them to implement on mission. But he doesn’t. He’s out blowing shit up in front of CCTV everywhere, phone cameras and more. Now what tech billionaire do you know of that isn’t recognizable with a quick google? The film tries to explain it away as 1 states that he is able to keep his anonymity because, ‘that’s how he always wanted it’, but it is just not believable. Even if he managed to not be famous, his team give themselves so much exposure that there is no way their faces don’t hit the evening news with at least his family and friends recognizing his sexy mug on their 100-inch flat screens.
The other issue I had with this character was, when they were sitting in a diner, discussing the best things about being ‘dead’, 1 speaks as if he is some ultra-intelligent man with wisdom to spare about how the best thing is the freedom. He can now do what he wants, go where he wants and when he wants. Like, mate, you were a billionaire, it’s really isn’t like you couldn’t have done that anyway.
The other numbers to the team, 2 (Melanie Laurent), 3 (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), 5 (Adria Arjona) and, 6 (Dave Franco), all do the best with what they are given, but they’re characters are all largely forgettable, with little character development between any of them. At least, nothing that really means anything. 3, visits his dementia-riddled mother, which is a nice touch, but does little to bring meaning to the character. Nothing is really done for the female characters to bring any meaning to them, which is a shame, all they seem to be there for is to flash some skin on request, rather than actually give the film any real substance.
The only two characters of any real strength were 7 – played by Corey Hawkins and 4 – played by Ben Hardy.
As a viewer, we know more about Hawkins’ 7 from the get-go, his character is introduced a bit further on in the film after the death of another member of the team. We learn about his motivations; his regrets, his military days and it really gives the character more depth in comparison to the others.
Hardy’s character, 4, is young, energetic and a practitioner of parkour, instantly making him more exciting then anyone else. His age is also a part of the reason I felt more for him. He’s young, fun, and we get more of an introduction to how he joined the team than we did with everyone else aside from 7. Actions that both their characters undertake during the film also help make both of these characters far more interesting.
The tech in the film is also lacks creativity and is unpractical. In fact, for a tech billionaire, 1 really doesn’t offer up much tech aside from turning a yacht into a giant magnet at the conclusion of the film. It’s not one the most useful things I’ve ever seen. While it’s effective in a way, just having a better plan probably would have worked too, and 1’s words “I really didn’t think we’d get this far” sums up the tone of the film too, because I was really surprised I got that far through it. 6 Underground is a cool looking film though, you wouldn’t expect anything less from Michael Bay. It’s colourful, explosive, fast and sleek and with fit cast, the fight scenes are great fun, but’s not enough to save it from its downsides. 6 Underground is full of hot guys, hot girls but no substance. Clearly created for a franchise, I hope that any further sequels stay exactly where the title ‘6 Underground’ suggests it started, six feet deep.
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Melanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
Writers: Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese