I'm a big fan of Storror, the British parkour team and YouTube channel, so when I saw in their videos that they were involved in making a movie I immediately added it my "to watch" list. When they revealed it would star Ryan Reynolds and be directed by Michael Bay, I was left hopeful but wary; then the reviews rolled in and I let it slide for a while. Having finally sat down to watch it, 6 Underground is about as honest a movie as I've seen in a while. Watching the trailer will show you exactly what you're in for, without really spoiling anything, so if you enjoy the trailer I'd say give it a shot.
At its core, the film is really trying to set up a new franchise. It borrows heavily from the likes of Mission: Impossible and the superhero franchises, but never really captures the spark that make those work. Part of the issue is that this is sort of an origin story, but also wants us to believe that everyone is highly trained, so there isn't any character arcs around learning how to be a hero, they just are and things don't go that well. It removes the empathy and grounding from a normal hero's origin story whilst also lacking the inherent coolness you get from James Bond or M:I films. Instead, you get a team that has mixed onscreen chemistry trying to take down an almost comically villainous dictator. There's no nuance to the plot, though an early death does at least give a sense of tension, but it's not exactly awful either.
The characters are a similar mixture of obvious tropes that aren't really problematic, but won't be breaking new ground either. There's the femme fatale, the tech billionaire inventor, the ex-gangster hard man, the special forces moral core, etc. etc. Again, nothing awful here, but nothing new either.
Instead, the film excels where Bay excels: in the action. And ultimately, given that I'm interested in the film because of the people brought on to do the stunts, that's okay by me. Some of the stunts get a bit carried away with themselves, like the incredibly lengthy opening car chase, but they're certainly spectacular. There are roof chases all over the world, ridiculous gadgets, all manner of close escapes, and obviously plenty of parkour. This makes the film enjoyable to watch in a mindless way, and a narrative that keeps cutting around to fill you in on character's identities and the villain's nefarious past help the movie balance plot with action well enough.
Plus, there's Ben Hardy. In a movie helmed by the walking definition of charm in Ryan Reynolds, Hardy still manages to eclipse him for onscreen charisma. His character is barely any more fleshed out or interesting than any of the others, and yet he seems to steal every scene he's in. I found he had a similar effect in Bohemian Rapsody, though there he was set against some phenomenal performances that dulled it a little. Here, he steals the show, and paired with Reynolds and perfectly adequate performances from everyone else, makes for an enjoyable film.
Would I go out of my way to watch 6 Underground again? No, but if they made a sequel, I'd definitely give it a look.