6 Underground (2019)

6underground.jpgDirector: Michael Bay
Running Time: 128 Minutes
Rating: 15
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Corey Hawkins, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ben Hardy, Adria Arjona, Dave Franco, Lior Raz, Peyman Maadi

Say what you will about Michael Bay, but there is no doubt he's a director with his own unique style. From a filter-tinted look to the outright carnage on display, you can always tell you're watching one of Bay's films, and that's apparent from very early on.

Intent on changing the world for the better, a tech billionaire (Ryan Reynolds) recruits a team of international operatives with unique skills. Each of them have faked their deaths, and work together behind the scenes, in order to take down a brutal dictator.

Screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese certainly have nice ideas in play, particularly the premise of code-named operatives taking down higher powers, in ways operating outside of the law. Yet it's all played in a manner that's utterly excessive, to the point that it somehow becomes rather boring. Take the opening sequence, which sees our characters in a sports car, as it partakes in a chase throughout Florence, Italy. All throughout, viewers are bombarded by excessive levels of slow-motion, explosions, and outright carnage, to the point this feels like a parody of a Michael Bay film.

We're left to follow the core group of operatives, which the film keeps trying to sell as a family, but you don't buy it. Despite the cast evidently trying, there's little personalities for the characters, no matter how much Ryan Reynolds repeats the shtick which made Deadpool into a profitable venture. It's unfortunate, since the time is taken to fill in copious amounts of backstory, yet it comes at the film's cost. The narrative is told in such a disjointed way that it takes over an hour before things settle down, and the plot manages to move forward. Before then, it constantly flits through different times and geographical locations, to the point viewers may get whiplash, and be liable for compensation.

Perhaps a memo was passed around the set to keep things moving, as the editors seem to have followed suit, and gotten snip-happy. Whether we're watching a set-piece, or characters simply talking, it's a rarity to let a shot linger for even 5 seconds, as the film jumps around like it's on a sugar high. You just want to sit down the films multiple editors, get them a nice cup of tea, and make sure they calm down before getting to work.

Less effective are the attempts at humour, as the film sticks to riffing on pop culture, leaving it to feel dated, and sadly stilted. It's a shame we don't have that lighter touch comedy allows, because when you get down to it, this film contains a horrific amount of civilian deaths. We're made to see each innocent life ended, caught in the crossfire of our leads reckless actions, and all without a single eyelid batted their way. Considering how much collateral damage they cause, we're left to question whether we're actually following the good guys.

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