Director: Michael Bay Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz & Jack Reynor Synopsis: “A mechanic and his family join the Autobots as they are targeted by a bounty hunter from another world.” Rating: 12A Runtime: 165 minutes
“After all we have done, humans are hunting us. But I fear we are all targets now.”
Transformers: Age of Extinction is an incredibly hard film to try to review. To a degree, there is no point in even trying to review it. I mean, if people paid attention to any sort of critics thoughts, then the fourth instalment in the Transformers series would have been one of the biggest flops of all time, but instead it could end up being one of the highest grossing films of the year.
Of course, Transformers: Age of Extinction was always going to make money. It has a built-in fan base, and anyone who enjoyed the previous three films will likely enjoy this one too. Personally, I’m stuck between the nostalgic fanboy and the budding film critic. Transformers: Age of Extinction is flawed beyond belief. It contains plot holes bigger than the Mersey Tunnel, it’s completely inconsistent to the other films in the series (which seem to rewrite their history with each instalment), it has some truly uncomfortable character interactions and it goes on for far too long. The thing is, I still enjoyed it.
I’m not even sure if I can tell you why I enjoyed it. Perhaps I’m a sucker for punishment? Perhaps my love of the Transformers from my youth means I can never truly hate anything that bears their name? Perhaps I am repenting for my sins, or I’m stuck in some sort of robotic purgatory?
The story, or lack of, revolves around multiple Macguffins this time. We have Transformium: a newly found material, which we find out is what the Transformers are made of, and we also have the Seed: which is apparently a bomb, of sorts, which can be detonated and used to create more Transformers. Meanwhile Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) is a struggling mechanic/inventor who finds an old truck in an abandoned cinema (how did the truck get in the cinema?) and upon taking it back to his home, discovers that he is actually now housing a Transformer.
After the events of Dark of The Moon, the Transformers are considered illegal alien threats to our planet, and who are being hunted by Kelsey Grammer’s evil Black Ops leader Harold Attinger, and his crony James Savoy (Titus Welliver). That is apart from the Transformers given amnesty by the government (who we never see) and the bounty hunter Lockdown who, despite being a bounty hunter with a warship and his own army, still needs the help of Attinger to track down Optimus Prime. That, by default, makes him a pretty shit bounty hunter.
Once Attinger finds out that Marky Mark’s character is housing a Transformer, he sets in motion a plan to obtain said Transformer, who he will then hand over to Lockdown, who will then give Attinger the Seed, so Attinger can give the Seed to Steve Jobs lookalike Joshua Royce (Stanley Tucci) who will then make new Transformers and they can both make a lot of money. Got it?
The story merely exists to get us to the next action set piece, with no coherence or linking of the two elements to make a satisfying whole. For instance, Savoy berates Yeager for working with the Autobots because he lost his sister in the battle of Chicago and now obviously hates all Transformers, but has no problem working alongside Lockdown who, is a Transformer afterall. While Optimus Prime swore to protect the human race at the end of Dark of the Moon, but is now prepared to leave them to fend for themselves and seemingly wants to kill quite a few of them.
There is also a sense here that the films creators have incredibly short memories. Continuity is rewritten, characterisation from previous films is abandoned and scenes from the past three films are reworked here. Michael Bay either has short-term memory loss, or simply doesn’t care.
Despite the films, many, faults I still found it rather enjoyable. Mark Wahlberg, though unconvincing as an inventor, brings an energy and charm to the role of a disillusioned Dad and carries the bulk of the film on his hefty shoulders. Stanley Tucci is enjoyable as always. While Titus Welliver brings a real menace to his part of Attinger’s right hand goon.
The action, for the large part, is really well done and in Michael Bay’s defense, no one can do action quite like this. The sheer spectacle of thing is incredible. There are explosions, shoot outs and car chases and they all look glorious. There is even a scene towards the start of the film, when the government agents descend on Yeager’s house, and Bay inexplicably makes an entire barn explode, it’s ridiculous but it’s fun.
That just about sums up the live action Transformers films for me, ridiculous but fun. Yes, they are stupid, yes they are far too long and yes they infuriate me because they don’t use the rich history of comics and cartoons to make a really good film but they are still somehow enjoyable.
In summary: Despite being far too long and annoyingly stupid, Transformers: Age of Extinction remains a fun ride for the most part and is the definition of big dumb fun. If you enjoyed the previous films in the series you will like this just as much. If you didn’t however, then you are best avoiding this one like the plague.