A mechanic and his family join the Autobots as they are targeted by a bounty hunter from another world.
CRASH. BANG. WALLOP. If you have somehow managed to avoid Michael Bay’s kids’ toy behemoth over recent years, those words provide a decent summary of what you’ve missed in the three movies preceding this latest chapter. Bay has certainly done his fair share of dross in his 20 years of directing to date (Pearl Harbor anyone?) but the man knows how to make money – $2bn and counting. Unfortunately, that method seems to be clubbing the audience into submission with massive action set pieces, loud noises and corny dialogue. Transformers: Age of Extinction doesn’t waver from that recipe.
After Megan Fox left following film 2 (comparing Bay to Hitler as a parting gesture), this film also loses charisma vacuum Shia Labeouf and replaces him with Hollywood everyman Mark Wahlberg, who plays inventor Cade Yeager. The casting in this film is actually rather good, with Kelsey Grammer (CIA Black Ops General, Harold Attinger) and Stanley Tucci (the Steve Jobs-channelling genius Joshua Joyce) both turning in good performances, in roles limited by a script seemingly written by a 13 year old boy. The ridiculous plot has the friendly Autobots in hiding, following a government crackdown after the events of the last movie. Wahlberg and his family stumble across Optimus Prime in a rundown cinema (Bay having the cheek to include a line whereby the owner of said cinema denounces the film industry as all sequels and remakes – he assumingly thinks this line is meta but it just made me wince) and after much blowing up and numerous civilian casualties that are brushed off, find themselves on the run and encountering Dinobots (of course it was actually an evil Transformer that killed the dinosaurs, not a meteor) and visiting Beijing and Hong Kong along the way in a blatant excuse for Bay to exploit the Asian market.
Speaking of exploiting, Bay manages to shoehorn in jokes about rape and uses Wahlberg bemoaning his teenage daughter’s short shorts as an excuse to stick his lens between her legs. Plus, I managed to count at least 10 product placements. And the voice actors doing Transformers vocals are awful (John Goodman, what were you thinking!?). Oh, and did I mention that it is 166 MINUTES! That’s the same length as Boyhood which covers 12 years of a boy’s life and flies by.
In summary, I didn’t like it. But it deserves some credit for having Wahlberg, Grammer and Tucci manage to put in decent performances.
Review by Richard Mason
Directed By: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Sophia Myles, T. J. Miller, Titus Welliver, Mark Ryan, Peter Cullen, Ken Watanabe and John Goodman