Almost exactly a year ago, Netflix gave a well-known director with a distinctive style a huge budget so that he could let off steam artistically. We reveal how good the result is in our review 6 UNDERGROUND.
OT: 6 Underground (USA 2019)
After faking their deaths, six people from all over the world decide to join forces and use their skills and determination for good. Real names are taboo, instead they simply call themselves One (Ryan Reynolds), Two (Mélanie Laurent), Three (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Four (Ben Hardy), Five (Adria Arjona) and Six (Dave Franco). One day, when Seven (Corey Hawkins) joins the team, he questions some of the team’s rules. But is there even time for that? After all, a new mission is urgent: to forcefully kick the legs out from under a dictatorial regime so that it makes room for democracy.
What do you do as a famous Hollywood director who is known for his unmistakable directing style and has already earned representation in the exquisite home cinema collection Criterion Collection when the type of film that you have stood for throughout your career is in the Cinema is becoming less and less common? Well, despite his past impassioned speeches about the indispensable, magical power of the big screen and the collective cinematic experience, heeds the call of a video-on-demand service and cashes its check for $150 million. Namely, in order to create a film with extra length that completely bows to one’s own artistic sensibilities and can therefore practically be described as a celebratory examination of one’s own directorial work. It has now been a year since this striking, repeatedly award-winning filmmaker cheated on the cinema venue he loved and often praised in the press, in order to make the most of his style and artistic tonality on Netflix. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of Michael Bay’s “6 Underground”, we would like to finally make up for a miss and take a look at this streaming mammoth work. Because the other streaming affair released in the cold months of 2019 by a cinema-loving, iconic director whose first name begins with “M” has already been discussed here…
Adria Arjona, Ryan Reynolds and Corey Hawkins in “6 Underground.”
The first thing you notice about “6 Underground” is the bold product placements. Since “The Island,” Bay has been known for how blatantly and conspicuously he showcases the advertising partners who ensure that he can pack more bang for his budget into his films. But “6 Underground” takes untested paths in terms of obviousness, even for Bay. For example, Bay turns a burial at sea into a holiday-feeling commercial for a famous rum spirit with a party lifestyle image. Lead actor Ryan Reynolds’ gin is presented in an advertising-ready manner during a dialogue. Two energy drinks immediately bring their logos into the picture, unashamedly, powerfully and magnificently. During one of the many chase scenes in “6 Underground,” a hero temporarily uses an advertising truck from an Italian coffee brand. And for an extra touch of comedic exaggeration, the characters race through an underground car park in one section of the film – and not only are there only cars from a single manufacturer parked in this underground car park, no, one of the walls in this underground car park is plastered with the brand name. And, the absolute highlight: the famous cardboard buckets of a fast food chain that specializes in chicken products are spread out in the luxury kitchen of a luxury yacht.
“Ever since “The Island,” Bay has been known for how blatantly and conspicuously he showcases the advertising partners who ensure that he can pack more bang for his budget into his films.”
Bay’s advertising excess in “6 Underground” is, there’s no way to sugarcoat it, completely free-wheeling commercialism and, with all due clarity, at times unintentionally funny. But: It cannot be denied that such absurd sights as a luxury kitchen littered with fast food remnants or an exclusive car brand underground car park require conscious planning and, despite their advertising nature, are also extremely pointed. And if If a film already contains product placement, then in a shallow spectacle blatant (and therefore recognizable) and humorous advertising messages are much easier to digest than perfidious and subtle ones that stimulate the purchase impulse. Above all, however, this advertising excess is symbolic of what runs through “6 Underground”: Michael Bay throws the last touch of restraint overboard here, even more energetically than in the 3D crashing spectacle “Transformers: Age of Extinction”. he otherwise has. Bay completely immerses himself in a production style that expresses how he remembers the impact of the film that most influenced his view of the art form in his youth – “West Side Story”.
In “6 Underground” things are banging again in typical Michael Bay style.
Although Bay is known as a fast-paced explosion orchestrator, he has a great weakness for musicals – and in particular for the classic by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. Several Michael Bay profiles in US feature pages and film journalism have already pointed out that it was “West Side Story” that, during his studies in Bay, made him realize what he loves more in films than anything else. He admires stylized films that express themselves primarily through their dynamics, pace and color aesthetics. What Bay specifically celebrates about “West Side Story” is that the film ostensibly takes place in a realistic world – this musical relies, among other things, on rough tracking shots through real New York and on characterful but believable costumes, instead of on the fantastic stage quality that characterized MGM musicals, for example. But within this “real” world, “West Side Story” creates one highly artificial World that functions according to its own logic. Personalities are expressed primarily through the movements of the characters and the swing of the camera, and only secondarily through (pointed) dialogue. And the color spectrum and color saturation are subject to the emotionality of a moment, so that the supposedly realistic aesthetic structure of the film is completely taken over by a dynamic, excited logic of its own.
Once you realize that the Playmates-dating, explosion-setting, technology-mad popcorn cinema director with 90s MTV style preferences is someone who loves “West Side Story” more than anything and wants to emulate it stylistically, you open up completely new perspectives on his work generally. And one like that “I just drank 1.5 liters of energy drink and had several shots of rum spirit, and I also have a pack of firecrackers in my pocket, what do we do now?!”-Logic pursuing film like “6 Underground” in particular. Because all of these logical errors, connection errors, breaks in continuity and breaks with the laws of physics that some critics forcefully accuse Michael Bay of (and attest to as a stylistic device in an arthouse film that is clearly recognizable as such) … well … are often exactly that with Michael Bay too : stylistic device. Stylistic devices fired completely without self-control and false modesty.
“Once you realize that the Playmates-dating, explosion-setting, technology-mad popcorn cinema director with 90s MTV style preferences is someone who loves “West Side Story” more than anything and wants to emulate it stylistically, you open up completely new perspectives on yourself Work in general.”
For example, during an action act that is physically completely impossible, but also thrillingly dynamically filmed, the time of day changes three times within around half an hour of narrative time (and very few hours of narrative time): we experience a sunset, a night and a sunrise – and that after Real world logic completely arbitrary. According to Bays “I want to create a film world that seems realistic at first and then infect it with a dynamic, emotionalized, stylized logic”– However, the changes in light suddenly make sense: the sun does not rise in Bayhausen when the laws of nature demand it, but when the sunrise allows the heroes’ actions to be underlined in a dramaturgically coherent manner. If something like this were limited to a single film passage, criticism would be understandable – but that’s not the case. Bay hammers this aesthetic sensibility from start to finish, and loosely based on his “It feels But it feels hotter like that!” Logic, in the turbulent opening, a flashback to another action sequence is even incorporated during an action sequence. The result is a fast-paced roller coaster ride with few breaks for breather, which leads through Bay’s brightly colored, crisply lit advertising poster world, where everyone is always doing what just looks particularly sensational. The course expert takes you on a course through a stylishly lit, night-time construction site course – even though there are much more efficient ways. Both men and women are filmed confessing their love as if they were models in a lingerie commercial – and they lounge like that… The images that Bay creates are always pointed and striking – Gore Verbinski’s faithful companion, cameraman Bojan Bazelli, complies Bay’s razor-sharp photo shoot aesthetic is impressive!
Supporting actor Sunset alongside Adria Arjona.
The “Deadpool” author duo Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese consequently deliver a script that can be told in this Michael Bay mode: The actual premise is simple (“We want to overthrow a dictatorship!”), but leaves plenty of room for side missions. There are no complications that disrupt the narrative dynamics, such as in Bay’s low point “Transformers – The Revenge”, and also no biliously exaggerated secondary characters who, with their sketch interludes, impose ballast on this choreography of destruction, noise and colors. Instead, this Bay-celebrates-his-dream-cinema party is lightened up by occasional self-irony and meta-references, which fit exactly into the popcorn party tonality of the film, instead of (as in Reynolds’ action vehicle “Killer’s Bodyguard”) the action happening every few minutes to interrupt with a convulsive “Deadpool” interlude. The big downside to “6 Underground” is the instrumental music: Although composer Lorne Balfe has already proven with “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” that he can deliver driving, concise accompaniment to sensational action, his “6 Underground” score has the same thing Problem like his score for “Gemini Man” by producer and long-time Bay collaborator Jerry Bruckheimer. Balfe creates an efficient sound wallpaper, but it doesn’t stay in your ear and lacks the electrifying grit that Trevor Rabin has (“Armageddon”) or a collaboration between Nick Glennie-Smith & Hans Zimmer (“The Rock”) have created for Bay’s hype in the past.
Conclusion: “6 Underground” is an excited, highly stylized popcorn party of a cinematic roller coaster ride in which Michael Bay lives out his style to the fullest and follows it through extremely consistently. You don’t have to love it, but you should recognize it as a brilliant work of art.
“6 Underground” is available to stream on Netflix.