Hey friends, Barbarella here and I need to vent a little about 6 UNDERGROUND, particularly Ryan Reynolds’ performance in it, or maybe it’s just the character he plays. I can’t determine where the fault lies. More on that later. For those who don’t know, the film is Michael Bay’s new direct-to-Netflix, big-budget, action extravaganza. Is it exciting? Yeah, but let me explain why I didn’t love it.
When a man witnesses an atrocity, he decides to form a team of “ghosts” to take out those who do horrible things in the world. We get a lot of narration, and while Ryan Reynolds has a great voice that I wouldn’t mind hearing every night before bed, it’s just too much narration. If Michael Bay could have avoided blowing up a couple cars, he probably could’ve added a scene that would’ve conveyed the same information without the voice over. But he can’t stop. Why does he hate cars so much?
The film also jumps around like an epileptic, with a flashback here and a flashback there, and most of those don't provide a whole lot of insight into either the characters or the story in general. It could have been handled more effectively.
For me, the most problematic aspect of the film is the character known as One. At times, he conveys a stern affect, seemingly burdened by bad memories, the weight of the tasks at hand, and the knowledge of the dangers ahead. But then he breaks into Deadpool-esque quips that feel so contrary to what he’s said and done so far, that it’s simply not believable that the same person would say all of those things. Ryan Reynolds proves unable to effectively navigate the tonal shifts in this character, but I guess the question comes down to responsibility.
If the writers, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who also penned DEADPOOL and ZOMBIELAND, wrote all this dialogue, I would blame them for creating such a remarkably inconsistent character. However, if Ryan Reynolds ad-libbed the incongruous lines to garner laughs, then I blame him for going off-script and Michael Bay for failing to rein him in. Something as simple as giving those occasional comic-relief lines to Three and allowing One to stay more consistently focused on the job could have made the whole thing less jarring. Jon Hamm would’ve also been far more believable as One, assuming the jarring one-liners were excluded.
Regarding the rest of the casting, I have no concerns there. Ben Hardy as Four, aka Skywalker, proves to be my favorite inclusion. Four is the parkour guy. He’s no Leito (David Belle) from DISTRICT B13, but hey, I cannot imagine there are many like him. Four’s moves are fine and tide me over while I wait eagerly for David Belle’s next film. Two (played by Mélanie Laurent) intrigues me the most, but sadly we don’t get much backstory on her. I would watch an entire movie about such an intriguing person, but would prefer fewer explosions and more character exploration.
Overall, 6 UNDERGROUND moves as quickly as the car in its opening chase sequence, but the choppy editing and often too-closely-shot footage does the action a disservice. It becomes challenging to clearly see everything happening, and some of the more extreme scenes could have been more impactful had the audience been given the opportunity to fully absorb them.
The use of some energetic songs, like The Score’s “Legend” and Bishop Brigg’s “White Flag,” strengthen the film, but if you’re looking to find them on the soundtrack, you won’t. It only contains the instrumental pieces composed by Lorne Balfe, which feels a bit like a misstep.
To summarize, I dug the music, the energy, and some of the characters, but I wanted less edits, more consistency for the lead, and more backstory for the rest of the team.