Extraction is a Marvel Cinematic Reunion of sorts. It is the directorial debut from Sam Hargrave, the stunt coordinator and second unit director on various MCU films. He’s bringing a script to life from Joe Russo, who’s producing the film with his brother, Anthony-both of whom directed Avengers Infinity War and Endgame. Oh, and it stars Chris Hemsworth as Tyler Rake (no, seriously). So there’s some serious talent working on this Netflix feature film, but how is it at the end of the day?
The plot of the film sees Ovi Mahajan (a charming and vulnerable Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of a Mumbai drug lord being kidnapped by the Bangladesh crime organization. They’ve brought him to Dhaka and time is running out for poor Ovi, who is nothing like his father. Quiet, shy and musically inclined, this fourteen-year-old is being used to dictate the drug scene in this part of the world. Of course, Ovi’s father, who is in jail, cannot allow such a move go unanswered-it would tear his credibility to shreds. This is where Tyler Rake comes in, whose team plan to infiltrate Dhaka, retrieve the boy and make, you guessed it, an extraction. Of course, things aren’t that easy and Rake is forced into one action set piece after the other trying to get Ovi to safety.
First things first, credit where credit is due: the camera choreography and editing for the action sequences are a step above the average film. In fact, they’re really good, as is the action itself. With a background in stunts and choreography, Hargraves knows how to frame a shot and make things clear. But while the movie certainly is trying to make a statement and be a cut above the average action movie, there is something inherently lacking in this action movie.
One of those things is Chris Hemsworth as Tyler Rake. Aside from such a crazy name (and yes, he does kill a man with a rake), Rake is a bit of a blank slate and a walking cliché. He suffers from an oxycodone addiction and alcoholism for reasons that you should be able to deduce within five minutes of meeting his character. His motivation for saving Ovi is purely financial, as he’s a black market mercenary. Hemsworth does a good enough job with what he’s given, and he really steps it up in the action set pieces, but I found myself not really invested in Rake as a person. Likewise, the bad guys in the movie are generic bad guys who really like to harm kids it seems. The movie would straight at home in a 90s action romp, but lacks all the charm and humour those action movies featured. This is a pretty grim and serious movie, which is a shame considering the talented Bollywood cast in supporting roles.
The action, while certainly well choreographed and shot, is also a bit lacking. There is a twelve-minute one shot in the movie but it’s not a real one shot. It’s digitally stitched together and the cuts are very obvious at times. Considering the calibre of what’s going on and what’s been done in the past, I would like to see Hargrave tackle a true one shot in the future. Likewise, while the action is entertaining, it can also feel a bit repetitive as the movie wears on. This is because most of the action is based around shootouts and they’re just not as entertaining or flashy as something like John Wick. The knife and fistfights are much better than the gunfights, but they are not featured as much as the close-quarters shootouts. That being said, the long shot featured in the movie, despite being artificial, is the highlight of the movie and still vastly entertaining and a feat of choreography. For action fans and cinephiles, this may be the scene of the year so far. It just had the potential to be more.
Extraction is a valiant attempt but doesn’t quite stick the landing. But it also showcases that there is room for experimentation and growth. Personally, I want to see more action films from Chris Hemsworth. He’s been doing a lot of comedy lately (to very mixed results) and to see him do straight-up action was refreshing. Likewise, this is a debut directorial effort and I want to see Hargrave work on more films and improve his craft. The main issue here is, ironically, the script, and considering it was written by a Russo, it’s a bit of a surprise. If you have the time-and most of you do-it won’t be a waste of time watching this if you’re a fan of action films. It’s a step above most movies in terms of production but there is also a lot of room for improvement.
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