Directed by Sam Hargrave.
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Farahani, Priyanshu Painyuli, Pankaj Tripathi, and David Harbour.
A mercenary is tasked with rescuing the son of a drug lord from the clutches of a rival criminal kingpin.
It’s not remotely surprising to see Chris Hemsworth follow-up the titanic Avengers: Endgame with a much smaller movie – granted, budgeted at a beefy $65 million – yet one which nevertheless reunites him with several key Marvel Cinematic Universe personnel.
Netflix’s new action-thriller Extraction is penned by Endgame co-director Joe Russo, and directing duties themselves are handled by MCU stuntman Sam Hargrave in his filmmaking debut. While absolutely boilerplate from a narrative perspective, this sinewy Bangladesh-set actioner is elevated by both Hargrave’s impressive behind-the-camera skill and an entertainingly stoic Hemsworth performance.
Hemsworth plays Tyler Rake, an Australian mercenary who accepts a job to rescue Ovi Mahajan Jr. (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of an Indian crime lord, from captivity in the Bangladeshi city of Dhaka. Naturally it’s a real slog for Tyler, who proceeds to spend two hours murdering an impressive percentage of the local population in order to get paid for a job well done.
It’s a familiar set-up adorned by most of the expected genre tropes – Taylor has a troubled past, of course – while even the potential surprises are ultimately telegraphed with a comical lack of subtlety.
But action films hardly need reinvent the wheel in order to be successful, and Extraction fits the mold of an undemanding mid-octane streamer romp to a tee. Once you get past the essence-of-tangerine filter that’s applied to almost every shot in the movie to make it look more “exotic,” Newton Thomas Sigel’s cinematography and some impressively dynamic camerawork work in strong tandem with Hargrave’s commitment to smash-mouth, fluid fight choreography.
Comparisons to John Wick are inevitable, and though there’s not quite the same technical exactitude here, the fights are certainly impressively, intelligently staged for the most part. Hemsworth kills a lot of people across Extraction‘s slightly bloated 117-minute runtime, and a good deal of them occur during protracted, bloody engagements.
The film’s riveting centerpiece is an end-of-first-act chase as Tyler desperately tries to extract his target; a frantic car chase slaloms into man and child booking it on foot, with plenty of brutal violence accompanying the elongated, 12-minute sortie. Though the digital joins between takes will be obvious to anyone familiar with the techniques employed, it’s still ably executed, and a bold approach for a first-time filmmaker – even one with friends as notable as the Russos.
Despite the relatively malnourished narrative, Hemsworth is also given the floor to deliver a genuinely engaging performance. Speaking with Hemsworth’s native Aussie twang, Tyler isn’t merely “Thor with a gun,” for despite the predictable arc of his character, he’s clearly a tortured man. A mid-film confessional in which Tyler outlays his past to Ovi is so passionately performed you almost wish it belonged in a better movie.
There are a few solid supporting performances in the bargain, also; Jaiswal acquits himself well opposite Hemsworth, their un-forced chemistry carrying the film through a few stodgy sections, aided by some smart spicings of light comic relief. David Harbour also shows up briefly in act three as one of Tyler’s old compatriots, though he’s sadly given little narrative meat to chew on.
The man who almost steals the movie away from Hemsworth, however, is in fact Randeep Hooda, who plays Saju, an operator caught on the opposite side of the central conflict with his own motivations for capturing Ovi. He brings a great visceral quality to the action sequences and at all times feels like a credible physical threat to Tyler.
The particulars of Extraction‘s narrative jettison themselves from the mind before the film’s even finished, honestly, but the impression that remains is of a talented filmmaker fashioning a strong calling card for their action chops. If straight-to-streaming movies in this genre don’t exactly have the strongest rep, Extraction is an uncommonly well-crafted effort, no matter its laughably unimaginative title.
Though generically premised, Extraction survives on the strength of its thrillingly brutal action sequences and an entertainingly grizzled Chris Hemsworth performance.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more film rambling.