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I’ve seen bad movies. I see probably more of them than most average viewers. This year I’ve watched almost four hundred films, out of which a quarter I’d call at least disappointing.
But Michael Bay is a special kind of bad. He excels at bad. When he releases a new film, you have to go in with a whole different set of criteria. Call if the Bayhem Scale, or BS for short. What is BS, you ask? It’s a scientific extrapolation of different factors commonly found in Michael Bay films. One such criteria could be: Nationalism vs. fun.
For example: ARMAGEDDON, the film where NASA would rather teach oil rig workers to be astronauts than the other way around, rates much higher on fun than it does on either racism or nationalism. Whereas 13 HOURS tips the scales heavily into an area known as alt-right nonsense so quickly we had to devise a whole new category for it. So while ARMAGEDDON is solidly entertaining in its BS, 13 HOURS is not. Science!
So what’s the BS rating for 6 UNDERGROUND? It’s the kind of film that makes you question reality and any desire to live in it. It’s ultra-violent in a gleeful, sickly kind of way, where Bay delights in watching people be crippled, maimed, and brutally shot in a variety of ways. It’s the kind of film where women are treated like mannequins from a lingerie ad, but nudity is shied away from, as if the idea of sexuality actively repulses Bay’s sensibilities. If he can’t shoot something like a product, it probably doesn’t interest him.
Some will argue that these are films for boys, and boys just want things to blow up while some aggressive dubstep track throws a rave in their ear canals. But I can’t see who this kind of film is for, and who are these ‘boys’ that everyone keeps bringing up. If anything this is the kind of irresponsible nonsense I thought we had grown out of as filmgoers in the 80s and 90s. The values are repugnant, the worldview belongs to the Cold War, and what’s worse is that it wears this ignorance like a badge of honor. Europe, The Middle East, all of these places are just jokes to the film and its cast. Even as Bay attempts to film refugees in a moral victory, he can’t help but do so in a way that makes them appear like monsters from a zombie movie. In the demented world of Bayhem, nobody cares about war crimes unless they’re narrated by Ryan Reynolds wearing clothes that cost more money than a single refugee will see in a lifetime.
Speaking of which, Ryan Reynolds and his thing? It’s getting old. This just confirms it. He’s funny as Deadpool, but I can’t think of a single role he’s done in the last five years where he wasn’t Deadpool. When even John Cena shows more range than you in his films, you know it’s time to branch out. Elsewhere Melanie Laurent shows up in the film looking thoroughly disgusted with herself, which is just as funny as it is heartbreaking.
As for the plot, there’s not much to say. It all has to do with some nonsense about a group of rich white folks going around violently solving all the problems of the world that the government can’t touch because of “laws” and crap, all of which sounds like a Republican wet dream. But it never actually says anything about the things it portrays. It’s a series of moments created for the express purpose of being used as gifs later. Not that it should come as a surprise; the target audience for these films has steadily veered towards the group of people that will watch this in fifteen parts on their phones. Who cares about plot when you just want to catch an explosion or butt cheek between transits?
If you don’t want to think about these things, and you just want something playing in the background while you check your social media, play some Bejeweled, and generally do all the things that cause Martin Scorsese to weep in the late hours of the night, then by all means, watch one of those screensaver things that Youtube is filled with.
But if that’s not available, I guess 6 UNDERGROUND is also suitable.