While the Transformers film series got off on the right track with 2007’s top-notch blockbuster, Transformers, the series has been all downhill since. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen might actually be the worst film of all-time while Transformers: Dark of the Moon displays some actual effort but is brought down by an atrocious script and characters that are downright annoying by the end of it. Transformers: Age of Extinction continues this trend. While the fourth film in the series actually displays some character work for the first time since the first outing and displays some cleverness in the early going, it can’t overcome its overindulgent runtime.
Transformers: Age of Extinction picks up years after the Battle of Chicago. The Autobots are being hunted down by a human task force and Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen once again lending his voice) is in hiding, seriously injured. Fortunately for Optimus he comes across down-on-his-luck inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg). Cade helps repair Optimus and ends up in the crossfire of the Autobots, Decepticons and a mysterious transformer who has knowledge of Optimus’ maker. Michael Bay continues on as director while Ehren Kruger is the solo screenwriter.
For a good hour it seems like Age of Extinction has found the magic that only the first entry in the series has truly been able to harness. Mark Wahlberg is perfectly cast as his immature charm seems so natural for this series. He kills it with the outrageous one-liners that he gets in this film too. Additionally, T.J. Miller does great work as the comedic sidekick, which has always been something the series has struggled with. Another problem that this series has always struggled with, interesting villains, is also solved with Mark Ryan’s mysterious Lockdown. For a tiny moment it even seems like this film has higher ambitions with its meta commentary.
Unfortunately, this all goes to waste in what seems like a second and third act that are just non-stop, head-banging action. While Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci (replacing T.J. Miller as the film’s source of comedy in the later stages) try their best, they just can’t overcome unmemorable action scenes that take up all of the room that could have possibly been saved for actual story. Even the meta commentary completely disappears, which ultimately makes Michael Bay seem tone deaf to what movie he is actually making.