|THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACYTHE EDGE|
The Netflix film may be the perfect Venn diagram of the director's cinematic ambition, with awful and great overlapping within a territory of pure Bay-hem.
[This story contains spoilers for 6 Underground.]
The first 10 minutes gave me a headache. Before the title even hits the screen we get a flashback, product placement for Red Bull and a plane crash. What follows the title within those opening 10 minutes is a high-speed car chase through Florence, Italy. But this isn't just any car chase. It's one that employs no less than half a dozen needle drops, trucks flipping over for reasons I still can't determine, sparks flying out of things that shouldn't spark, mafia gunmen, parkour, a more recent flashback, go-pro sequences, the statue of David accompanied by a small dick joke, Ryan Reynolds trying to hold onto a loose eyeball that serves as some kind of security key and Dave Franco getting impaled through the neck by a freight loader. This is Michael Bay's 6 Underground. This is Bay-hem on a scale undreamt of.
There's a lot to be said about Bay's place within cinema can we still call it that?, and much has been said. The sheer excess of his filmmaking style has left him with a sizeable fan base, and just as many critical detractors. The filmmaker who broke out of directing music videos with his first feature film, Bad Boys 1995, which launched Will Smith into movie stardom, has only seen the scale and ambition of his movies grow since his days as the heir apparent to Tony Scott during his tenure with producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson. Only one of Bay's directorial efforts, 1996'sThe Rock, has landed a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But, of course, movies are more than percentages and tomato splats.
There are some who would say that his work on the Transformers franchise, and the five films he directed, marked a death knell for cinema. Others would say that behind the absurd amount of explosions, helicopter shots, gunfire, lingerie models and more product placement than a one-year subscription of Men's Health magazine, there is an artist, a genius who has turned commercialism in all of its aspects into an art form. But neither extreme feels fitting. Neither a charlatan nor a virtuoso, Michael Bay is simply Michael Bay. There's no other filmmaker like him who lives so closely on the edge of good and bad, and that's part of the appeal. It's a rarity that I've walked away from a Bay film without a headache and burning eyes, and yet... I'm a fan. And 6 Underground, which marks Bay's first feature for Netflix, may be the perfect Venn diagram of the director's cinematic ambition, with awful and great overlapping within a territory of pure Bay-hem.6 Underground | Courtesy of Netflix
6 Underground follows a team of vigilantes, known only by their numbers, who seek to...