below the radar


As the director of the action films “Bad Boys” and the “Transformer” series among so many others, Michael Bay’s bold approach is characterized by an aggressive visual style, high-octane action, extensive use of special effects and plenty of explosions. Bay’s method is appreciated far more by movie going audiences than critics. That’s likely to be true of his newest venture for the streaming on Netflix of the action film “6 Underground.”

Loud, goofy and outrageous are other means by which to describe the director’s bag of cinematic tricks, and all of these descriptions fit perfectly for an understanding of what’s in store for a “Mission: Impossible”-style adventure on steroids. Operating from an abandoned airfield in the California desert, Ryan Reynolds is an eccentric billionaire who has assembled a group of mercenaries working off the grid to do the messy job of taking down corrupt foreign leaders that governments are unable or unwilling to handle.

Functioning without identities, Reynolds and his crew have all faked their own deaths to operate below the radar. Not one of them has a name, just a number. Reynolds is known as One, and his right-hand person is the sexy former CIA agent Two (Melanie Laurent). The team is rounded out by tough guy Three (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), parkour risk-taker Four (Ben Hardy), putative medic Five (Adria Arjona), and daredevil driver Six (Dave Franco). After one member dies, former military sniper Seven (Corey Hawkins) joins the team.

The action starts in earnest during an extended frenetic car chase through the scenic streets of ancient Florence, Italy, during which shootouts and driving stunts are choreographed like a ballet of insanely desperate acts. The primary mission is to take down the evil dictator of the fictional nation of Turkistan and replace him with his democracy-loving brother currently held prisoner in the gilded cage of a penthouse apartment in Hong Kong.

Given the setting is one of the “stan” countries, an overthrow of the totalitarian government will be greeted by the oppressed citizenry with the enthusiasm of a successful Arab Spring. If only that were true for some other Middle East nations. With Ryan Reynolds on board channeling his “Deadpool” character, there is plenty of deadpan humor, snarky remarks and a remarkable amount of cynicism. The plot is really immaterial because, after all, the Michael Bay signature style is to go over-the-top with the intent to entertain with a lot of pyrotechnics and dazzling stunts. “6 Underground,” regardless of its flaws, is headed in that direction.