I feel frightened for Netflix, especially for the coming new year. A lot of their thunder is being taken by streaming services like Disney+, a service that hasn’t even gone global yet. There’s also the impending HBO Max, which might take away even more of their subscriber base when it launches in 2020. Oh, but not only are these things going to eat into their subscriber numbers but their movies and television programming as well. You can bet that Disney will withhold a good chunk of their product and HBO will try to gobble up some exclusive movie and television deals as well.
This is why I do like that Netflix realizes this possible future is trying to create more original programs. They’ve already have a string of successes like Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black. But they will still need much more than that. Which is probably why they are producing big budget films and getting some high profile directors like Martin Scorsese to get movies like The Irishman into their library of films.
While they are trying, I think Netflix missed the mark with their Michael Bay directed and Ryan Reynolds headlining action flick, 6 Underground.
While I know 6 Underground has been available on Netflix for a good time now, I will still be making this review a SPOILER FREE review. There aren’t any major twists to reveal or anything like that. It’s just that any plot points didn’t really influence my thoughts on the film.
Anyway, 6 Underground is about a group of highly trained people who have faked their death. They did this in order to freely target the worst of the worst without having to go through any red tape or official channels. The group is kind of like a bunch of vigilantes but, instead of taking out petty thugs, they focus on dictators. Each member of the 6 Underground are called by their respective number instead of their name to prevent their actual identities to be revealed, even to their own team members. Also, they all have their own specialties with One, Ryan Reynolds’ character, leading this group of ragtag freedom fighters.
Sounds like a fun concept when everything is said and not. It’s not particularly unique but it’s an idea that has worked well in the past. If you’ve seen Mission: Impossible, 6 Underground is kind of like that… but much worse.
A lot of 6 Underground’s problems have to do with the overall tone. It feels all over the place. There are times when I felt that Ryan Reynolds was miscast as the group’s leader since it was weird to see him act all serious and stoic at times. But in later moments, he would be the same old wisecracking Ryan Reynolds personality we’ve all gotten used to. It’s like Michael Bay couldn’t settle on what kind of leader he wanted. Maybe there were days when he wanted a no-nonsense boss then, on other days, he would want him Ryan Reynolds to do his thing. It’s not just with him, unfortunately. Everyone seems to be directed this way as, in one scene, they’re all silly and then they’re super serious the next.
This leads to 6 Underground’s other big problem: you never care for the characters themselves. Since they never have a consistent personality, it’s very difficult to care for them. That’s because you never really get to know them. Sure, they do get some quick character introductions and you get to see their skillset. But just because you know where they came from, that doesn’t mean you know who they are. It’s not like they try. They are given some quirks and even different accents but I just didn’t really worry if anyone of them died or not.
Besides the haphazard tone, another couple of things that come off as really disorganized is the actual plot and editing. 6 Underground’s overall story is told in a rather non-linear fashion. The film starts out right in the middle of one of their missions and then some backstory is then told in the form of a flashback. This wouldn’t be a problem if you could make sense when you’re watching a flashback or not. But, for some reason, Michael Bay thought it was a genius move to cut to flashback after flashback in quick succession during the early part of the film’s 128-minute runtime! You can still generally follow the story but it always feels like you’re playing catch-up since you have to quickly reorient yourself to what point of the story you’re on. Are you on a flashback or the current time? Better make sure you can keep up because Michael Bay doesn’t care!
6 Underground isn’t a complete wash, however. Say what you will about Michael Bay. The man knows how to direct a good action scene. And the action setpieces in 6 Underground are generally amazing. There are some really clever stuntwork all throughout the film and, I’m not sure how much of the explosions, car wrecks and popping heads were CGI or practical effects but I was generally engrossed in the spectacle. They are all very energetic and fun to look at if just a smidge difficult to follow. They can be somewhat difficult to wrap your head around because of the aforementioned bad editing. However, if you look at them by just turning off the logical part of your brain and just watch the cool stunts and carnage.
Even if the action was good, it would be dumb of me to recommend 6 Underground based on them. Yes, it is an action movie but, I’m sorry. I also want a decent plot and characters I actually care about in my action movies. I guess, in the long run, there are worse ways you can spend a little over two hours than watching 6 Underground. I mean, your toes could be stabbed by little pins for that time. That would be worse. But just because it’s isn’t the worst thing you can do with that time, that doesn’t mean you should waste your time on it, either.
Nice try, Netflix. But try harder next time.
Have you seen 6 Underground? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!