By the final hour of this 165-minute clockbuster you’ll be feeling an overwhelming sense of familiarity – as its director’s brand of “textbook machismo”, to quote Ehren Kruger’s script, batters your brain into submission.
“Remember Chicago” blares a billboard, reminding us of the Windy City’s destruction in the finale of Bay’s third outing Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Rest assured, there’s no need: the equally protracted conclusion to this latest episode feels like a carbon copy, albeit set in a vibrantly-shot Hong Kong, as the most expensive episode of Robot Wars ever made plays out in glorious IMAX 3D.
Still, Transformers: Age of Extinction does tread fresh ground, with Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky and his family airbrushed out the saga. Replacing him is Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a cash-strapped inventor struggling to raise his 17 year-old daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz); their tender relationship, defined by his over-protective demeanour, gives the film the heart lacking from the LaBeouf years.
Weighed down by an indulgent running time and tedious/meaningless scenes of endless carnage, thankfully the human element stays strong, with Wahlberg and the excellent Tucci, in particular, keeping you watching. A pity John Goodman (voicing cigar-chomping Autobot Hound) lazily recycles his Monuments Men character.
But then originality has never been high on Bay’s list of requirements.
After a promising start, thanks to Wahlberg and his funky bunch, Age Of Extinction transforms into a typically bombastic Bay offering. If it’s major-league spectacle you want, though, look no further.