Writing - 8/10
Acting - 8/10
Visuals - 7/10
Overall - 8/10
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ben Hardy, Adria Arjona, Corey Hawkins, Dave Franco, Payman Maadi
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese
Maturity Rating: R
Release Date: December 13, 2019
Distributed By: Netflix
An anonymous vigilante squad use their skills and work together to take down dictators and terrorists that governments won’t touch.
6 Underground is An Exciting and Satisfying Action Flick
A billionaire, One (Ryan Reynolds) witnesses the horrors of the dictator of Turgistan, Rovach Alimov (Lior Raz), first hand. When the government refuses to act, One takes things into his own hands. He fakes his death and recruits a vigilante squad of specialists, the Ghosts, to do the same. They are the 6 Underground. They all help him with his first goal: start a coup d’etat and replace Rovach with his democratic and empathetic brother, Murat (Payman Maadi).
I don’t think anyone would say 6 Underground is the best movie in its genre. However, it is entertaining. The visuals, the talent, and the writing make it a movie worth watching. And re-watching if that’s your style.
Visuals and Effects
Visually, there was a lot I liked about 6 Underground. There were several shots, including a sweep across a cemetery for a funeral, that I thought was amazing. I also loved a shot through a peephole during an assassination where they literally shot and killed the man through the peephole. It was badass.
Another pro was that the actions sequences weren’t shaky. I find that in so many films like this, where the characters are fighting their way through enemies, the camera sort of shakes all over the place to reflect the chaos or give us a point of view shot. Not the case in 6 Underground. The camera is steady so the action is clear. It was all sleek.
That being said, there were shaky parts during the POV shots for Four (Ben Hardy), whose role is The Skywalker. Basically, he does parkour everywhere and scopes out what’s going on. During his backstory, and some during action sequences, we got GoPro-like footage of building hopping. This was interesting to watch. It made me nervous as hell, but it had the desired effect. On the con side, this footage was not as high definition as the rest of the movie and that sort of takes you out of it. For a moment, you feel like you’re watching YouTube instead of a Hollywood movie.
Another thing I loved was the use of slow motion. It was varied in this movie, used for humor as well as action. For example, in a car chase in Florence, the action slows way down as Six (Dave Franco), the Driver, swerves to avoid a mother with a baby and then some puppies. One uses magnets as a way to disarm their opponents, and each time he used them, it was in slow motion to show how everything was affected.
Of course, this is a Michael Bay film so there are explosions. Lots of them. Also, the film doesn’t shy away from blood spatter, blood running, and a bloody bullet removal. If you’re queasy, 6 Underground is probably not the film for you.
Small note: the songs in this movie all sound alike. Personally, I liked this because it established consistency in tone. I understand that for some, this could be super annoying.
I’m going, to be honest. I watched 6 Underground for Ben Hardy and Ben Hardy only. However, as I watched, the rest of the cast amazed me as well. Of course, I had absolute faith in Ryan Reynolds from seeing him in Deadpool, but the other actors I had never even heard of. Two (Mélanie Laurent) is ex-CIA and positively deadly with a weapon. Three (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) is a hitman. Four was a thief who almost didn’t make it through a robbery. Five (Adria Arjona) is a doctor. Six was the driver. Seven (Corey Hawkins) served in Afghanistan.
This was the core cast. Each of the actors played their characters flawlessly, and it wasn’t like Reynolds outshined them. It was truly a team project. The banter and bickering seemed to come easily. The emotional parts were emotional because of how they showed each character’s growing attachment to each other. None of the Ghosts came off as cheesy.
On the other hand, I thought Rovach and his brother Murat did tend to come off as cheesy. They were still compelling to watch, but their conversations were a bit too on the nose about who they were. And there were times that both Raz and Maadi delivered lines stiffly. It felt like they were trying too hard to show Rovach is the bossy, evil villain, and Murat is the slightly weaker, soft-spoken but good-hearted, younger brother.
Writing and Themes
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
6 Underground had some clever writing for an action movie. Reese and Wernick toyed with significant themes throughout the script and wove them inexpertly. The two primary ones were death and family.
The theme of death was the one we were sort of beat over the head with. Particularly the ghost symbolism. The vigilante squad call themselves the Ghosts. The movie even opens with Reynolds doing a voice-over speech about what happens when you die. One’s opinion is that death equals freedom. It’s even in seemingly insignificant lines. After One sleeps with Arianna, a woman he meets while at a play when he implies he won’t be calling her again, she says, “Are you ghosting me?” When One finds out that Three is secretly visiting his mother, One confronts him by surprising him in the car. The first word out of One’s mouth? “Boo.”
Death has a profound impact on One. It is his witnessing of death and destruction four years before the main events of the story that motivate him to do what he does.
There is also great symbolism in that the coup is set to take place on the Day of the Dead. Which also comes back in the script when, at Seven’s fake funeral, he mentions that his cousin cried harder watching Coco. A Disney movie about Day of the Dead. The writers knew what they were doing. Even these little details bring everything together.
The second major theme in 6 Underground is family. The beginning shots of the movie heavily imply that One is an orphan. He is also obsessed with Leave it to Beaver, a show about family. Although, throughout the movie, he denies that the Ghosts are family.
Despite this, after losing Six in their first mission to Florence, One refuses to replace his number. When he recruits Blaine, a former soldier with survivor’s guilt, One calls him Seven. This implies that even though oneOne seems to have distanced himself emotionally, he is attached to each of them. When Four is nearly left behind in Hong Kong, One is regretfully prepared to leave him. It is Seven’s insistence on saving him that does it. It is also Seven who gets each of them to reveal their real names. All except One.
Seven annoys One by pushing the family dynamic. However, it works. In the climax of the movie, Four is nearly left for dead again. This time, One goes back for him, potentially costing them the mission of capturing Rovach. One and Four have a unique relationship. It’s almost brotherly. In fact, when One recruits Four, he pranks him (rather cruelly), instead of the straightforward way he approached the others. So it made sense that Four was the reason for his ultimate change of heart.
In the greatest twist of all, in the end, One tracks down Arianna. He sees she had his son in the years he had been focused on Rovach. We see One prepare a will, leaving his fortune to his son in the event of his death. Despite his protests, One has a family by the end of the movie.
Each of the Ghosts have their reasons for joining One. Two was a CIA Spook who didn’t agree with the choices the government was making. Three was a hitman. His boss forced him to kill people and he ended up seeing how wrong it was. Four was a thief. Seven lost his men in an incident that he could have prevented if he’d disobeyed orders.
They carefully wove the backstories through the script, showing us the reasons each member joined as they came up. I’m usually a fan of more chronological storytelling, but I liked the pace of this. The writers spaced things out in a way that made sense.
Honestly, 6 Underground is funny. What else would we expect from Ryan Reynolds? The whole car chase in Florence – between the bickering and the action – makes it amusing as well as stressful. Two and Five yell at One in other languages, Six has to be careful not to crush an eyeball under the pedals, they nearly hit the famous David statue. It’s a mess.
When the Ghosts are taking down Rovach’s top four generals in Las Vegas, they assault the generals while a few sex workers are servicing them. The final general, they kill while he is mid-coitus with one of the women. Afterwards, One looks at her, and says, “Could be worse, you know, he could have finished.” The whole movie has quick quips like this which Reynolds is just an expert at delivering.
In Hong Kong, when they’re retrieving Murat from his penthouse apartment, One wishes Four good luck. Four says, “Saying good luck is bad luck.” One replies, “I take it back, then.” Four tells him that’s even worse luck, and they go back and forth like that until Four just stalks off, calling One “wanker” as he climbs.
There are too many hilarious moments to write them all out, but most of the one-liners in this film are just gold.
Part of the writing that I didn’t enjoy was the heavy-handedness with which they portrayed how evil Rovach is. I thought it was clear how cruel he was in his actions – gassing a refugee camp, throwing innocent men off the rooftop of a building, etc. – but then they took it even further. The way Rovach talks about his people is like he’s talking about gum he scraped off his shoes. At one point I nearly rolled my eyes because I was thinking, “Okay, we get it! He’s evil! Can we move on with the plot now?!”
Rovach’s fate sort of sealed the deal for me on this movie. The Ghosts take him captive and fly him to the refugee camp. The very people he abused and tortured and took advantage of. They drop Rovach into their midst to face their vengeance. I LOVE this ending. It shows that the heroes in this are about justice, not necessarily morality. They didn’t spare his life to be “not like him” or any of the cheesy stuff people say. They showed him no mercy because he deserved none. When you see the people of Turgistan unleashing their anger on him, you don’t feel the least bit sorry.
On the whole, I genuinely liked this movie. I thought it was clever, compelling, and solid. It had a few meaningful plot twists. It had a found family dynamic which I live for. And, the movie sets itself up for a sequel. When Bay first took on the project, they described it as an action franchise with Reynolds at the helm. Also, Rovach was shown to be the first of nine targets the Ghosts want to take out. Also, one of One’s final lines is “I am One, but not done.”
I hope there’s more because I would watch them! The cast and the plot have me interested!
Overall, I recommend 6 Underground if you need something action-packed and original.