Review by C.J. Bunce
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and director Michael Bay (Transformers, Armageddon) are going to surprise a lot of people this December. Their new film, a direct-to-Netflix, big-budget action spectacle called 6 Underground, is the kind of movie that belongs on the big screen leading the box office rankings. It has big, over-the-top, expensive action sequences that leave last year’s seemingly impossible to beat Mission: Impossible–Fallout, in its wake. It also stuffs about two movies into one: giving the audience a slight breather between action sequences, its edits are sharp and quick, so much so it offers one of those strobe warnings upfront, with an amazing new weapon we haven’t yet seen anywhere that it keeps for its third act. If you loved the team of crooks in Baby Driver, the good guys seeking revenge of The Italian Job, and the speed of The Fate of the Furious, get ready for the next watchalike. It’s Leverage on steroids. It’s the best direct-to-Netflix movie yet–and a whole lotta fun.
Reynolds is a billionaire genius fed up with not being able to do good with his money by following the rules. He fakes his death and recruits and tries to maintain an international band of six “ghosts” who have complementary mad skills and are willing to leave their lives (including names) behind to change the world. This includes an incredible driver played by Dave Franco (Now You See Me), a badass ex-CIA spook played by French actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), a hitman played by Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven), a doctor played by Puerto Rican actress Adria Arjona (True Detective), and a parkour whiz played by Brit actor Ben Hardy (Bohemian Rhapsody, X-Men: Apocalypse). When one of the team dies in a messy job, Reynolds’ character, known only as One, recruits an ex-marine sharpshooter played by Corey Hawkins. And the movie gets bigger and better.
Although the opening 20-minute action scene will be talked about for years, it’s Hawkins arriving new to the team as Seven where the story takes off. He was willing to leave the military service behind because he was held back–he tried to save his fellow soldiers in an attack but was ordered not to–but with this new team he finally has the freedom to do all he can for the greater good, all under his own terms. Reynolds as Reynolds–the same snarky, smartass character he played in Deadpool and Life and R.I.P.D. and Green Lantern is here, and he makes it work yet again, thanks to funny banter and a team of actors and characters with chemistry. He carries the leading action man role that would normally be taken by Jason Statham and twists it a bit, not doing all those kicks and physical feats, but getting in the middle of the action and staying there with all the other stunt-heavy moves going on around him (not that he doesn’t get to play in the punches, too). If that weren’t enough, 6 Underground also has amazing international settings and gorgeous, James Bond universe-type cinematography thanks to photography by Bojan Bazelli (The Ring, The Sorceror’s Apprentice, Snake Eyes).
Inglourious Basterds co-star Mélanie Laurent provides a reminder of why she was such a standout in that film, delivering a standout performance here, too, as a cool, tough-as-nails spy with a gun who does her job even bleeding out with a bullet lodged in her gut. Laurent and Garcia-Rulfo’s characters should have their own spin-off movie series–both actors should be in more movies.
The stunt people and special effects teams really earned their pay on this film. Best escape sequence? Check. Best skyscraper infiltration? Check. Best ship disaster (including Cameron’s Titanic)? Check. Bodies get dismembered in new ways. Bodies fly off the tops of buildings. Bodies fly horizontally. Teeth fly. Bodies fly into cars, under cars, over cars, and through cars.
This action flick has an R rating, not for nudity, but for language, violence, and lots of blood and gore–all appropriate to the story. This is a big, fun entry that in any other year would be a summer hit at the theater. Unfortunately audiences will likely never learn how it would compare to the other box office hits this year, since it’s a streaming-only movie.
It’s the best use of magnets you’ll ever see. The first blockbuster-worthy movie made for the big screen that was instead diverted to your TV set, watch 6 Underground on the biggest home theater screen you can. It’s like a Christmas present from Netflix. Stream it now, only on Netflix.