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.
There are a lot of eyes on the Russo Brothers at the moment. They’ve been the stewards of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s biggest installments since 2016’s de facto Avengers movie Captain America: Civil War, but have now stepped aside in the wake of helming the biggest film of all time. Their move has been to establish the production company AGBO, which is effectively creating star vehicles for MCU stars. Chadwick Boseman led last year’s 21 Bridges, Tom Holland plays an uncharacteristically dark role in the upcoming Cherry and Chris Hemsworth is the star of the energetic, gripping new Netflix actioner Extraction.
Hemsworth, utilising his own Aussie accent for a change, is Tyler Rake – a highly-skilled mercenary with a death wish born, naturally, of a tragic family back story. So far, so cliché. Tyler has been hired to rescue Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) – teenage son of a Mumbai drug kingpin – who has been kidnapped by rival gangster Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli) and spirited away to Bangladesh. Everything seems to go according to plan until Tyler’s superior Nik (Golshifteh Farahani) reveals their client hasn’t transferred the money and Saju (Randeep Hooda) – right-hand man to Ovi’s dad – attempts to finish the job himself.
Extraction is a triumph of pure kinetic energy. It keeps its story constantly pulsating forward for two hours, getting to the meat of the mission within the first 10 minutes without much in the way of detailed exposition. By the halfway point, the audience is being asked to come down from a legitimately spectacular 12-minute chase-and-fight sequence stitched together, 1917-style, to appear like a single take. Extraction never met a whip pan it didn’t love. This is a movie that is interested, first and foremost, in forward momentum.
Hemsworth certainly has the physicality for his role, battering through goons in a flurry of fists and firearms that is helmed by stuntman and debutant director Sam Hargrave as a sort of halfway point between John Wick and The Raid. It’s a real showcase for Hemsworth’s beefy charisma, as well as the emotional range that has made his take on Thor so compelling over the past decade. His character is drenched in every trope of the wounded gunslinger, but Hemsworth grounds it with real skill – even though his dialogue is largely limited to growls and yelled commands.
There’s certainly not a fear of cliché here. Anyone who has ever seen an action movie will be familiar with every beat of this plot, right down to the twists, turns and betrayals. Joe Russo’s script is derivative of just about every entry in the genre and, as a result, it falls to the action and the performances to paper over the cracks. Thankfully, Hemsworth is up to that task and there are some solid supporting performances, including from Priyanshu Painyuli as Asif – “Dhaka’s very own Pablo Escobar” – a grotesque villain who thinks nothing of having children chucked off buildings.
The action, too, is genuinely thrilling and impressive in its blood-splashing violence. The aforementioned single-take chase, for example, is a whip-pan-packed odyssey of invention and energy that veers delightfully from a crunching car chase through to close-quarters combat on a cramped, sweaty complex of homes. There are occasional nosedives into a sort of Call of Duty clumsiness in some of the street-level scenes, but this is a rarity. For every generic run-and-shoot scene, there’s something more elegantly put together, including a descent into a sewer so foul it makes the worst toilet in Scotland from Trainspotting look like Jay-Z’s kitchen.
Extraction is not a movie that’s going to live particularly long in the memory of anyone who sees it. It’s a cliché-ridden bullet ballet that’s elevated by a talented director with a great eye for an athletically-helmed action sequence and a grizzly leading performance from Chris Hemsworth that showcases every megawatt of his glowing movie star charisma. It has moments of exhilarating nastiness, for sure, but also wallows in the tropes of an overly familiar story that doesn’t seem to have an original bone in its body.
But when you’re watching a blood-soaked Hemsworth slash and shoot his way through dozens of bad guys, it’s difficult to have too many complaints. It’s perfect Netflix fodder.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fan. Follow him on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for movie opinions, wrestling stuff and puns.