6 Underground is an ambitious project. Director Michael Bay didn’t leave even one stone unturned, probably trying to get into the Mission: Impossible (read: Ghost Protocol) style of movies, to make this movie palatable. High octane chase sequences, glamorous clothes, and swanky shooting locations are a part and parcel of this movie. Bay, with movies like Bad Boys, Pearl Harbour and Transformers under his sleeve as a director, and various other well-known movies as a producer, has been trying to get back in the game for some time after a few disastrous Transformers movies and 13 Hours (which was, well, something). His latest venture, although similar to, if not the same as, his other movies, is still different in that it weakly tries to incorporate humor in the mix.
The movie follows six mercenaries who are specialized in their own trade and who ply the earth to bring an end to various injustices. They are led by Number One, who is the financial backing of the team. With him is Number Two, a spy, Number Three, a hitman, Number Four, a parkour runner and thief, Number Five, a doctor, and Number Six, a driver. One of their death brings in Number Seven, a sniper – thus the significance of 6 Underground. The team is trying to overthrow a dictatorship in Turkistan under Rovach Alimov, and make his ‘nicer’ brother, Murat, the president (because democracy isn’t a thing. Kinda hits home, doesn’t it?).
6 Underground starts off with an extended car chase sequence – the ones we have come to love and appreciate because it has been done to death. I mean, you don’t get to have an action movie without at least one car chase, right? (cue Fast and the Furious franchise). It takes place in Florence and is so over-the-top that I had to skip some parts of it, not gonna lie. This is in sync with Number Four’s heroic parkour stunts, which are, well, scary and fascinating at the same time. But I did wonder in some places whether they were real or achieved digitally.
Although the movie is filled with one nonsensical twist after the other, the biggest WTF moment for me (and that is something) was at the end of it when the six get into a yacht to capture Rovach. There’s an entire almost half an hour dedicated to stunts and gags brought on by huge magnets. Yup, you read that right. I’m sure Bay didn’t plan for us to laugh at this sequence. In fact, he probably thought the sheer brilliance will dazzle us. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop laughing at the sheer stupidity of it.
Netflix is a medium that has revolutionized the movie-going experience. Thus, in my opinion, the least it can do is provide a platform to directors who make movies, if not for social change, then at least not against it. Instead, here we have a movie which blatantly objectives women, tells us – don’t worry a rich white dude with a beard will definitely save us, and that everyone in the Middle East is a terrorist or a puppet and thus it’s absolutely okay to bomb them. 6 Underground tells us that the Americans are there to save us, their government doesn’t make any mistakes, and that brown people don’t need to worry at all – Americans have it all covered. Operatives, weapons, money – it’s all American. It also tells us that coups are a good thing – only if Americans do it, of course. And that is a very dangerous narrative to set.
One is a self-righteous prick. He thinks he can just get into any country he sees fit, stage a coup, and rescue the people who will then forever be thankful to him. “The world stays on the sideline”, he says. No sir. The world never stays on the sideline. If you take a look at history (which I won’t get into here), you’d see how the world has been anywhere but on the sideline. Moreover, Five, who is apparently a ghost and is in a high-security Hong Kong building to extract Murat… is wearing a neon green dress and a hot pink gas mask. How in the world? I’ll give you another one. The entire world hates Rovach. However, he goes to Paris to watch an opera with only two bodyguards. How does this even make sense?
Furthermore, the only kind of people you see in Turgistan are either poor and dirty or are aides of the dictator. But Turgistan has huge skyscrapers and state-of-the-art buildings. So what’s the deal here then? Moreover, the casting is also problematic. Rovach is played by an Israeli actor while Murat is played by an Iranian actor. They cannot, in any way, be considered brothers because both of their accents are wildly different.
The icing on the cake though? Its very obvious La Case de Papel parallels where One tells the crew that there cannot be any interpersonal relationships. And then obviously two of the mercenaries decide to sleep with each other – while on the job, nonetheless. Talk about professionalism.
Lastly, it’s almost 2020. Dick jokes aren’t funny anymore. Grow up.
So, this brings me to question Bay’s motivation behind this movie. Did he really think that we’d be dumb enough to buy into this narrative or, more alarmingly, did he think that this is how the audience sees the world as well?
Either way, give this one a skip.