Extraction doesn’t have the balletic kinetic art-house pop action of something like John Wick but it does have exceptionally crunchy and messy skirmishes

Extraction doesn’t have the balletic kinetic art-house pop action of something like John Wick but it does have exceptionally crunchy and messy skirmishes throughout. Sometimes it is exceptionally grim and tries a bit too hard to add pathos which produces some mixed results. Extraction is at its best as an intense single ride with a whole lot of explosions, gunfire and cursing along the way. This is a visceral action experience and not something tepid and generic like some action movies can be. It is certainly one of the best original action movies on Netflix which sometimes makes generic action snoozers like Spenser Confidential but Extraction clicks.
Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of an imprisoned drug kingpin, is kidnapped in Dhaka, and the kingpin’s goon Saju (Randeep Hooda), hires an extraction team to get the kid back. The main mercenary is the (rather awesomely named) Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) with back up from Nik (Golshifteh Farahani). Masterminding the kidnapping is the crime lord Amir (Priyanshu Painyuli) who locks down the city and sends out scores of goons. Soon Tyler and Ovi are dealing with Saju double-crossing them, militant child soldiers and corrupt army officers. They try to find salvation with one of Tyler’s comrades Gaspar (David Harbour), but there may be no escape.
The movie works best when its going straight out. This is exemplified in a fantastic action scene that looks like a single shot going from a car chase, to close quarters battle, to jumping across rooftops, to more car chases and explosions, all for 12 minutes straight. The single shot action sequence is a trick that has been played a lot in movies like Children of Men, 1917 and Atomic Blonde. In something like Children or 1917 a long single take makes it feel like the audience is along the arduous journey of the characters across a landscape. In action movies a singe takes make the chase more immediate. The one-take action bit here is a show-stopper with lots of closeups that makes the audience feel every hit and whipping the camera around gives it a breakneck pace, culminating when Tyler uses a vehicle to stop a rampaging bad guy and Ovi says aghast, “You hit him with a truck!” and Tyler just grunts “Yep”.

The film is directed by Sam Hargrave who directed 2nd unit for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Avengers directors the Russo Brothers are involved in Extraction too with Joe Russo writing the script and, obviously, Thor himself is the lead. Extraction has some emotional moments between the stuff blowing up that sometimes seems like it is trying too hard to add some heft. It doesn’t reach the depth of something like Logan where an old hero is worn down by his life of violence but it tries; the backstory for Tyler gives him sick child melodrama that is sympathetic but shamelessly manipulative. The scene where Tyler admits how his life fell apart has Hemsworth doing some emoting that usually isn’t in typical action movies. Tyler Rake is a pretty great action hero name and just silly enough that Ovi says “Isn’t that like a gardening tool?”. Hemsworth is playing an Australian for once and the movie opens with him in Australia and he says “Mate” for more than a few times. Jaiswal is basically kidnap bait the plot revolves around but he has a few good scenes with Hemsworth, especially the finale.
David Harbour must be on retainer by Netflix as he’s also the star of Stranger Things, doing the quippy, cynical thing he does and his exit from the movie is memorable. Hooda as the goon gets a bit of development with some extraneous sad phone calls to his family that add to the movie’s running time. Farahani is basically playing Hemsworth’s exposition buddy but she gets to blow a helicopter out of the sky with a bazooka and her last scene is great. The main baddie is Painyuli and he never gets face to face with Tyler as action hero antagonists should which is frustrating. He just stays in his estate, looks menacing, gives orders, and has a running sub-plot about him trying to teach a street kid how to be a crook. Its mostly generic bad guy filler but the calumniation of him distorting the kid’s mind is memorable. Interestingly, a baddie that hangs back, doesn’t do anything and entices a surrogate kid to do incredible acts of evil seems similar to the Mad Titan Thanos from the Avengers movies. Tone is sort a problem here as it is consistently grim without many laughs, which is something action movies kind of need. A moment where Tyler beats up some child soldiers is maybe meant to be funny, but it clashes harshly with earlier in the movie where he let a starving kid who pulls a gun on him go free, but in the latter scene he just snarls about how annoying the kids are.
Extraction has a lot of things going for it, becoming great when it puts the pedal to the floor and goes nuts. While it may stumble in a few places and is a bit more schmaltzy and melodramatic than it should be, the best bits are when it shoots, explodes, punches and roars.

4 stars
Director: Sam Hargrave
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani and Rudhraksh Jaiswal,

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