Whereas animated Transformers movies and TV shows in the past have typically centered on the conflict between the warring Cybertronian factions of Autobots and Decepticons, the live-action feature films directed by Michael Bay have consistently added human villains to the mix. The list of human antagonists includes covert spy agencies and corrupt government officials in the first three Transformers movies, as well as a scheming defense contractor in Transformers: Age of Extinction.
The fifth installment, Transformers: The Last Knight, is set to add a new set of flesh-and-blood baddies called The TRF; though so far, their backstory and goals have remained a well-kept secret. However, cast member Santiago Cabrera revealed new details of his TRF-affiliated character and the organization itself, during our visit to The Last Knight‘s Set.
As revealed by Cabrera (a Venezuelan-born Chilean star most-recently best known for BBC genre series like Merlin and The Three Musketeers), The TRF or “Transformers Reaction Force” is a government-backed private paramilitary unit (think Blackwater) tasked with hunting down and destroying Transformers, whether Autobot or Decepticon – the robots having become fugitives from a paranoid humanity prior to the events of Transformers: Age of Extinction. His character, Santos, is a veteran of the “Cemetery Wind” faction from the previous film, and has been assigned to confront Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) for suspected harboring of Autobots.
Cabrera offer the following about his character and what drives the TRF’s actions in Transformers: The Last Knight:
I play Santos, who’s a mercenary who’s out to get all the Transformers, so I have a little sort of run in with Cade Yeager, all of them. It’s orders really, it’s orders. So he’s sort of an antagonist at the beginning because of his orders. I kind of have a scrap with Bumblebee. I do alright though, I do alright. But in that respect in the beginning I’m gonna be the guy you love to hate, which is a cool part to play, and then things kind of shift.
With respect to Santos’ military history, Cabrera said:
My backstory would be that I was a SEAL but I’ve retired and I’m on contract, I’ve been hired –The TRF has been formed to fight the Transformers, so my orders are I don’t care if they’re Autobots of Decepticons we gotta stop this war. So I’m a team leader and I’ve come with my team to fight them and what I find and when I see Cade Yeager is harboring them he becomes the enemy basically.
When asked if he and Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager have “a little bit of a scuffle” in The Last Knight, Cabrera answered:
Yeah, kind of, yeah. That’s sort of a little introduction to my character, we have a little moment which is a fun scene we shot at the Packard plant, it was great fun, it was the first day that I worked with Mark and I really enjoyed it, read well, there was some action after it with big explosions and stuff.
The actor also touched upon the amount of time that has passed between the events of The Last Knight and Age of Extinction:
Yeah, I would say at least a few years and the world is in chaos, Transformers are coming in the bridges and they’re everywhere and it’s just mayhem now. So they’ve created a special force, a kind of a worldwide team where I’m a specific team leader who you meet that’s kind of in charge, and I’ve got drones and I go to work out to the junkyard where we believe Cade Yeager is hiding some robots.
Finally, Cabrera confirmed that his character Santos does have a supervisor that he answers to:
Yeah, yeah, you’ll meet like a team leader, there’s an actor who at the beginning of the scene where you first see me and you see all these guys, he’s giving all these instructions about Cade Yeager and that this is the guy you want, and then I take my guys and then we go out on the road and we find him.