A movie like Extraction is always going to do well on Netflix. It's a big-budget action-thriller with a major name like Chris Hemsworth, coming just a year after Avengers: Endgame. Not to mention the fact that it's written and produced by Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo (they produced together, Joe wrote the screenplay). With no movies out in theaters, and everyone begging for something new and exciting to watch, Extraction is set up for success. People will be drawn to it and it will probably end up being one of the most-watched original movies ever on Netflix. However, Extraction's quality doesn't really live up to its popularity. We've seen this movie before, and it's not all that interesting.
Hemsworth stars as Tyler Rake, a mercenary who doesn't care all that much about his own life, a point that is made all too clear in just about every scene. He's approached at the start of the film about a job in India that will pay him a ton of money, provided he's able to rescue the son of an evil crime lord from the clutches of another evil crime lord. The already dangerous situation is made even more difficult when the military and police officers on the latter crime lord's payroll close off the entire city in order to hunt Rake and the boy down.
This story has existed in film and television for ages, and Extraction brings nothing remotely new to the table. A strong white man is called into a foreign country to save the day, he kills just about every person he sees, and tries to show the audience at some point that he's actually a Good Man. It's revealed early on that Rake lost his son to cancer at a very young age and that turned him off to most of life. Maybe that could have made the character compelling at some point, but it never goes anywhere. The guy's main personality trait, and the one thing that sets him up as the "hero" of the story, is that he doesn't kill children. Every adult over the legal drinking age, however, could not matter less.
Rake is an incredibly difficult protagonist to root for, and I don't mean that in a "he's a complicated anti-hero" kind of way. He's just not likable. At all. The only thing that keeps you in his corner is the fact that you look at him and see the face of Thor, subconsciously convincing yourself that he's the best guy around. Rake is just a thinly crafted character stuck in an even thinner story. Joe Russo has proven to be a good director, but Extraction makes it clear that screenwriting just isn't in his arsenal.
The script and generic tone really bog Extraction down, but there are two really great elements to this film that make it worth the time. First is director Sam Hargrave, who saved Extraction from being the utter mess it could've been in the hands of a lesser filmmaker. It's shocking that this was his first feature. As a long-time stunt coordinator, working on films like Avengers: Endgame and Atomic Blonde, Hargrave knows what makes for a great action scene. By bringing his talent as a stunt professional to the director's chair, Hargrave is able to pull off some great shots and immaculately choreographed fights. The standout scene in the film is a 12-minute, one-shot take that goes from a car chase to a brawl in an apartment building. Hargrave maneuvered the camera through the entire sequence with incredible ease, going as far as to leap from building to building with Hemsworth, rather than just letting a drone do the work. His eye for action gives the fights a sense of visceral authenticity that is hard to find outside of the John Wick franchise. Trust me when I say that Sam Hargrave has the goods. Hopefully he can get a project that matches his talent next time.
The other noteworthy effort in Extraction belongs to Indian actor Randeep Hooda, who plays Saju, a bodyguard of sorts to the crime lord's son. He soars above the material and out-performs Hemsworth in just about every scene. There's a believability to Hooda's battle-hardened performance that everyone else in the cast fails to match, especially in the third act climax where he absolutely soars.
Extraction is a lackluster and forgettable affair, despite some exciting moments. But then again, most modern war movies are exactly that. Every now and again a Black Hawk Down comes along and really does something different, something that's just not the norm. Extraction is cut from the same cloth as all the rest. Who cares, though? Chris Hemsworth is in a movie where stuff blows up, it's free on your living room TV, and the summer movie season doesn't exist. We're all going to watch it.5comments
Rating: 2 out of 5
Extraction is now streaming on Netflix.