The very best action movies are transformative and even a bit magical. They're filled with an energy that overwhelms your ability to care about clumsy dialogue or plot holes the size of one of Jupiter's moons. "Independence Day" is a ludicrous movie on a dozen different levels. But I've probably watched it a couple of dozen times over the years because it's fun. As a viewer, there's a specific type of joy that comes from losing yourself in the noise and momentum of a great action film.
Michael Bay is not a subtle director and because of that, he's become one of the best action movie directors in the business. He knows how to juggle the chaos of a well-made action scene with the right ensemble to make things look effortless. I suspect that Bay's hope on a movie like "6 Underground" is that when it's over, you'll sit back in your seat, shaking your head and muttering "holy crap, that was an insane ride."
Click here to see a photo gallery from the movie.
That's certainly the reaction I had after watching the ambitiously chaotic "6 Underground," a new Netflix movie that may provide the streamer with its first action movie franchise. The film costs a reported $150 million to make and every cent of that budget seems to be on the screen.
Ryan Reynolds stars in the script written by "Deadpool" scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. He plays One, a nameless orphan billionaire who made his money with magnets. He's frustrated by the fact that no one has the guts or the resources to take out the "truly world-class evil monsters" and he forms a vigilante squad designed to take some of them down. He tells them they'll have to leave their old life behind and the ensemble is filled with actors strong enough to carry their own film, including "Bohemian Rhapsody" star Ben Hardy as a parkour expert, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as a hitman, Corey Hawkins as the newbie and the under-appreciated Melanie Laurent playing the squad's necessary ex-CIA member.
The movie begins with a bat-shit crazy 15-minute long car chase that will leave you staggered by the time it's over. And then it's on to what passes for a plot in the film, an effort by the team to replace an evil leader (played by Lior Raz) with his less-despotic brother (Payman Maadi). But to be honest, the plot is mostly just an excuse to bang through $80 million worth of explosives, bullets, and an unfortunate rooftop pool.
Like most Bay movies, "6 Underground" balances the over-the-top action with moments of humor and Reynolds is a strong enough actor to hold it all together in the same way Tom Cruise does in the "Mission Impossible" films. There are the requisite pop culture references, a couple of mildly inappropriate lingering body shots and if the Academy Awards ever added a category for most inventive (and frequent) use of explosives, this movie would be taking home an Oscar.
"6 Underground" is by far my favorite action movie of 2019 and while I enjoyed it on the big screen, I'd recommend trying to catch it during its brief theatrical run. Because even on the biggest television screen, you're going to miss some of the scope and ambition of the action sequences.
And with any luck, Netflix, Bay and Reynolds are already working on "6 Underground Again."
"6 Underground" premieres Friday, December 13th, 2019 on Netflix.