With such awful reviews, it might be that my expectations were low, but I had a great time at “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” For me to check my watch only once during a movie that runs nearly three hours… Let’s just say that ties with “Lawrence of Arabia.”
Working with screenwriter Ehren Kruger, director Michael Bay’s story manages to be both thin and convoluted, but thankfully, there is enough plot to hold all the metal crunching together.
The new cast, in what will apparently be a new trilogy, helps a lot. Mark Wahlberg’s can-do, everyman likability, Stanley Tucci’s irrepressible humor, and Kelsey Grammer taking it all so seriously, do a fine job of filling in the time between the nearly non-stop rock-em/sock-em.
From what I could piece together, five years after the Battle of Chicago (which took place in the last film), Harold Attinger (Grammer) is a CIA big shot assigned to hunt down the remaining Decepticons. Through a black bag operation, however, he’s on the hunt to exterminate all Transformers, including our allies the Autobots.
Attinger hides his corruption behind speeches about God and country when he’s really a greedy crony capitalist in business with Joshua Joyce (Tucci), the head of KSI, a worldwide company using the material and lifeforce from melted down Transformers to build his own giant robot army.
This rare material is called “transformium” and other than mining existing Tranformers for it, the only way to create more transformium is to explode something called the “seed.” The seed is deadly enough that when the Creator of the Tranformers exploded it, the Earth’s dinosaurs were wiped out.
You with me so far?
Cuz my head hurts.
Anyway, Attinger believes that he and Joyce can make unlimited cash through the monopoly on world peace that’s guaranteed once the original Transformers are wiped out and they control an unstoppable army of their own.
The monkey in this wrench, and the film’s arch-villain, is a Transformer named Lockdown, who is some kind of intergalactic bounty hunter working for the Creator and hot for the scalp of Optimus Prime.
Actually, everyone is after Optimus Prime, but it’s Cade Yaeger (Wahlberg) a broke and widowed, Texas-based garage inventor who ends up with the heroic Autobot leader. This puts Yaeger, his Daisy Duke-ish 17 year-old daughter, and her boyfriend/professional driver in the middle of much mayhem and political intrigue that will stretch from Chicago to China.
The action sequences are breathtaking — the choreography, camerawork, and special effects come together better than they have in any of the previous three films. Granted, the stakes never feel real. But as Optimus Prime and his ragtag group of Transformer and human allies increasingly meet tougher opponents, there is at least a logic that gives the action purpose, which is enough to save these sequences from bludgeoning you with mindless, soul-killing sound and fury. (See: “Transformers 2”).
Bay’s love for America, our flag, and all-things Texas really shines through in the first hour. I’m a little surprised the Left hasn’t gotten its collective crybaby panties in a wad over a pretty intense scene involving lawless and warrantless federal agents swarming Yaeger’s farm and threatening his daughter. The allusions to Ruby Ridge and the like are unmistakable, and not flattering.
For three hours (minus 15-minutes) my eyes were wide and my shallow mind hypnotized.
What more do you want on a hot summer night?
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC