Ryan Reynolds Melanie Laurent Manuel Garcia-Rulfo Adria Arjona Corey Hawkins
Dave Franco Ben Hardy
Six characters so closeted, when someone says, “Who are you?” the answer is, “No one.” They like to see themselves as “ghosts.” Number One (Reynolds) (they use numbers, rather than names) who essentially functions as the leader (and founder, perhaps) has strict principles to live by, which precludes forming attachments, having cell phones, or leaving any digital trace of their footprints. (This code is bandied about from time to time, with some squirming against it, and some openly questioning it; but One always defends it.) They’re a “Delta” force doing risky, undercover work; but unlike the Navy Seals, for instance, they are not attached to a government. It’s part of their creed that they take orders from no one and make their decisions to take action all on their own (vigilantes). This also means that things like “due process” and written laws of justice are not a part of their value system. They do believe that if they see broad social injustice—such as a despotic leader exploiting his people—they have a right/duty to intervene through whatever means it takes.
This system presents a wondrous opportunity for filmmakers (Michael Bay, director) to devise a point-by-point account of the group’s derring-do against a backdrop of luxurious settings (e.g., Florence Italy and Hong Kong), on gigantic yachts, in elegant hotels, and so on. It’s like a James Bond film, but here you have six/seven heroes/heroines to gaze upon. Likewise, it’s an opportunity for a macho extravaganza of destruction. (Thank goodness, they spared Michaelangelo’s David sculpture in Florence!) It’s the cinematographer’s (Bojan Bazelli) job to show off the visual elegance of these scenes, accompanied by Lorne Balfe’s reverberating score.
6 Underground is a libertarian’s wet dream about heroic acts being achieved outside the strictures of authority and government. It’s likewise a video-game-like lavish display of machismo—executed by women (thank you very much!) as well as men. I do appreciate females being portrayed with as much authority as the males. And it even shows their superiority at times when two males can’t keep from fighting like little boys.
As in many action films, 6 Underground is heavy on the car chases and heroics at the expense of story and character development. Maybe this was meant to be more tongue-in-cheek than I got, but, to me, Ryan Reynolds did not fit with the hard-edged character he was meant to be. Just to look at him physically, is to see a nice and gentle guy who could pull off Deadpool beautifully. I think a more sharp-edged—going toward the cynical—look in the actor would be more apropos in this case.
I can say that on the one hand, 6 Underground is entertaining in places and has unexpected elements, and I always like to see the evil man get his due. On the other hand, envisioning a vigilante force outside of law exerting its judgment (including killing) without benefit of a lawful trial makes me uneasy. I’m also against the wanton destruction shown during much of the film, especially when cars are careening every which way and bashing into other cars, buildings, and historical sites along the streets in Florence and elsewhere. These scenes become tediously repetitious.
Aside from Reynolds—who I think was miscast, although he is a good actor—Melanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ben Hardy, Corey Hawkins, Adria Arjona and Dave Franco enrich the plot and inhabit their characters well, especially Laurent, Hardy, Hawkins, and Garcia-Rulfo.
If you’re up to a video-game kind of movie, this will please you. But if you have a problem with vigilantism and absurd car chases, find another film to watch.