Courtesy Paramount Pictures
Andrew Cooper

Bay does brave a daring new standard in product placement. He doesn’t just show a Bud Light truck—he wrecks it, scatters beer bottles across the road, and then has Mark pick one up and take a swig. It’s so calculated, it gets a knowing laugh, as if the audience is relieved that at least there’s one joke that doesn’t insult their intelligence. Later, when the robot brawl relocates to Hong Kong, Bay flatters the increasingly important Chinese ticket buyers by paying them his two biggest compliments: first, that they have a city worth destroying, and second, that he’ll linger on their own local juice boxes and water bottles, whose brand names Western viewers can’t even read. Thus having fulfilled its primary obligations to commerce over creativity, Transformers: Age of Extinction ends the way you knew it would all along: with six cornball speeches, the threat of a sequel, and a headache.

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