Transformers: Age of Extinction Director: Michael Bay
Screenwriters: Ehren Kruger
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammar, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Titus Welliver, T.J. Miller, Li Bingbing Paramount Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 165 Minutes
Release Date: June 27, 2014
In Transformers: Age of Extinction, the Transformers are America’s most wanted. After the Fall of Chicago, CIA operative Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammar) assembles Cemetery Wind, a strike team tasked with exterminating the remaining Autobots and Decepticons. His secret weapon is Lockdown, an intergalactic mercenary on a mission to capture Optimus Prime.
In rural Texas, struggling robotics inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his partner Lucas (T.J. Miller) purchase an old semi-truck in hopes of stripping it down for parts. Turns out the ol’ rust bucket is Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), leader of the Autobots and the U.S. government’s public enemy number one.
When Cemetery Wind comes looking for Optimus, Cade and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) escape with her boyfriend (Jack Reynor), an Irish rally car driver. Optimus rallies the remaining Autobots – Bumblebee, Drift, Hound and Crosshairs – and travel with their human allies to Chicago.
Enter yet another villain, future-tech tycoon Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) of Kinetic Solutions Incorporated. Joyce discovers “Transformium,” the building block of all Transformers. Using the remains of Megatron, he creates his own robotic prototype, Galvatron.
You can probably guess where things are going: Optimus Prime and the Autobots battle Galvatron, Lockdown, and an army of Decepticons, while idiotic, insufferable human characters navigate an obstacle course of twisted metal, thunderous explosions, hellacious gunfire, and product placement. Oh, and there are giant robot dinosaurs too. Why? Don’t worry about it.
Like the previous three installments in Michael Bay‘s blockbuster franchise, Age of Extinction is an endurance test – a loud, incoherent assault on the senses. These movies are like cinematic concussions. After Bay bashes your brain in for 165 minutes, you’re left nauseous and disoriented. A few hours later, you can’t remember a damn thing.
This is commerce over creativity at its finest worst. Bud Light, Chevy, Beats by Dre, Red Bull, Victoria’s Secret – the amount of product placement in this film is astounding. There’s literally a Transformer branded by OREO in this goddamn movie! When Bay shifts gears and moves the “plot” from Chicago to Beijing, the integrated ads are for Asian bottled water, exotic milks, and a dragon-shaped hotel called Pangu Plaza.
When scenes aren’t focused on fulfilling contractual obligations, they devolve into random, bizarre asides that have absolutely nothing to do with anything. This is a movie about giant space robots who ride fire-breathing dinosaur robots, right? So why is half of the film devoted to Wahlberg’s over-protective father and his futile attempts to keep his daughter a virgin?
At one point, Wahlberg threatens to call the cops on Tessa’s older boyfriend (you know, for statutory rape). The Irish bad boy responds by pulling out a photocopy of a Texas law that gives him the legal right to have sex with Wahlberg’s 17-year-old daughter. WHY!? Why is this unnecessary, cringe-worthy bit in an already bloated children’s movie!?
In Michael Bay films, men are aggressive psychopaths or spineless perverts. Women are nothing more than walking, talking mini skirts, and every ethnicity is reduced to a stereotype. In this installment, Bay injects his signature brand of “racial humor” with an Asian Autobot (Ken Watanabe) that looks like a samurai and speaks in haiku. Oh and his name is Drift. You know, like Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift?
Transformers: Age of Extinction is the laziest, dullest entry in this franchise – and that’s saying a lot. Initially, I had hopes that this reboot (the first film in a new trilogy) would be an upgrade – replacing Shia LaBeouf and John Turturro’s ass cheeks with Mark Wahlberg – but not even Marky Mark can save the script by Ehren Kruger. Kruger’s embarrassingly poor screenplay is jam-packed with useless scenes, awful characters, and truckloads of exposition that no one – including Bay and the actors – gives a damn about.
There is, however, one genuinely cool thing about this movie, and that’s Lockdown (Mark Ryan). He’s basically the Boba Fett of the Transformers universe, a bad-ass bounty hunter who works on behalf of a mysterious alien race known as the “Creators.” He pilots an enormous spaceship that acts as a prison for his bounties, overcrowded with exotic extraterrestrials in cages.
If Age of Extinction focused on Lockdown and his vendetta with Optimus Prime, and lost 45 minutes of bad jokes and terrible human drama, it could be a damn entertaining movie. Unfortunately, as long as Bay and Kruger are involved, these films will never be anything other than disappointing. And it’s a shame too, because there’s so much potential in this franchise – but Bay is more concerned with shooting commercials than telling a decent story.