Mixed reviews for Michael Bay's '6 Underground' but they won't stop it being a hit for Netflix

Ryan Reynolds in <i>6 Underground</i>. (Christian Black/Courtesy of Netflix)
Ryan Reynolds in 6 Underground. (Christian Black/Courtesy of Netflix)

6 Underground, Michael Bay’s first new film since 2017’s Transformers: The Last Knight, will hit Netflix on Friday 13 December, just in time to soak up the streaming bandwidth of punters looking for something to take their minds off their Christmas shopping.

Slotting into Netflix’s December slot, previously occupied by mega-hits Bird Box and Bright, the film stars Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Corey Hawkins, Dave Franco, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Adria Arjona and Ben Hardy as a team of billionaire vigilantes who take down notorious criminals.

The first official reviews for the film have started to land and, as usual for Michael Bay, they’re a mixed bag. There’s no consensus on Rotten Tomatoes as yet, but Indiewire’s B-rating stands as the most positive review so far. It suggests Netflix has found its own “mega-franchise” with the $150m budgeted movie.

“The film’s unrelenting action is as ambitious and insane as anything [Bay]’s ever made,” writes Kate Erbland, “the explosions might not be as big on the streaming screen, but they’re as bonkers as ever.”

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 02: (LR) Ryan Reynolds, Adria Arjona, Mélanie Laurent, Ian Bryce and Michael Bay attend the press conference for the world premiere of Netflix's '6 Underground' at Four Seasons Hotel on December 02, 2019 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Woohae Cho/Getty Images for Netflix)
Ryan Reynolds, Adria Arjona, Mélanie Laurent, Ian Bryce and Michael Bay attend the press conference for the world premiere of Netflix's '6 Underground'. (Woohae Cho/Getty Images for Netflix)

Trade papers Variety and The Hollywood Reporter both fall on the side of it being fun but flawed.

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In its official review Variety’s Peter Debruge describes the film’s screenplay, by Deadpool and Zombieland writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, as “imbecilic”, while conceding that Bay has made his first straight-to-streaming film “as visually stunning as such a project can withstand.”

Michael Bay unleashes the Bayhem in <i>6 Underground</i> (Netflix)
Michael Bay unleashes the Bayhem in 6 Underground (Netflix)

THR’s John Defore is similarly scathing about the usually reliable writing team’s script, with the reviewer calling the film “a bloated, dull action flick”, finding little to praise in the film.

On the other hand Cinemablend’s Eric Eisenberg, with his positive three-star review, calls the film “the prototypical piece of Bayhem”, summarising that “it all comes together in the end, as 6 Underground is operating with a higher tally of good ideas versus bad ideas.”

Whatever the critics think, the director with multiple billion-dollar-grossing movies to his name, is sure to be a big draw for Netflix subscribers over Christmas.

Read more: Ayer responds to Bright’s bad reviews

The streaming service says 26m people watched 70% of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman in its first week, while crowd-pleasing Sandra Bullock horror Bird Box racked up 80m views after launching December 2018, so we can expect even bigger numbers for Netflix’s first Michael Bay original.

Bright, the David Ayer-directed Will Smith fantasy filmed, had a similarly rough ride with critics, but found an audience on Netflix, earning a sequel.

Bay’s last film Transformers: The Last Knight earned a lowly 15% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with his 1996 action film The Rock standing as his only directorial effort with a “Fresh” rating above 65%.

6 Underground lands on Netflix on Friday 13 December.