REVIEW: “Extraction” (2020)

EXTRACTposterI was only a few minutes into Netflix’s new action flick “Extraction” and I could already see the markings from several movies that came before it. The main character, the story’s central conceit, even the ending to a degree are elements we’ve seen before. But not every movie needs to shatter the mold especially when making a genre film. Sometimes it’s enough to do what you’re doing well. “Extraction” does what it does well.

The film reunites Chris Hemsworth with Anthony and Joe Russo, the sibling duo known for directing some of the best films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“Infinity War”, “Endgame”, and the last two Captain America pictures). Here the brothers serve as producers with the younger brother Joe writing the screenplay. In the director’s chair sits Sam Hargrave who was the stunt coordinator on “Endgame” and “Captain America: Civil War”. So as you as you can see, there are several big budget connections at work on “Extraction”.

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Photo Courtesy of Netflix

Hemsworth plays Tyler Rake (yep, that’s his name), a hard-drinking mercenary who is hired to retrieve and extract the teenaged son of a drug lord. The boy, named Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), was kidnapped in Mumbai and taken to Dhaka, Bangladesh by a rival gangster named Amir Asaf (Priyanshu Painyuli). From prison Ovi’s father threatens his top henchman Saju (Randeep Hooda) – “You want your son to see his next birthday? Then get mine back.”

Tyler gets the contract from his colleague, Nik Khan (the always enjoyable Golshifteh Farahani). It’s a high-stakes job but nothing a cash-strapped loner with a death wish would pass up on. So Tyler heads to Dhaka and grabs the kid in a thrilling hyper-violent exchange that sets the table for the R-rated carnage to come. Things ratchet up when it becomes clear Ovi’s father doesn’t intend to pay the contract. Instead Saju is in Dhaka to kill Tyler and take the boy. Meanwhile Asaf gets wind that Tyler has Ovi and orders the corrupt local police to lock down the city and hunt them down.

Despite the boy now being expendable Tyler refuses to leave him, promising Ovi he’ll get him out of Dkaka. It’s partly paternal instinct, but mostly a quest for redemption. So with two enemies closing in, Tyler takes Ovi into the heart of the crowded city. It culminates in one of the best action scenes I’ve seen in years – an electrifying 10-minute sequence shot as one continuous take. It starts with a car chase, moves to a shootout, throws in a knife fight before finishing with another car chase. It’s a work of brilliance from Hargrave and his DP Newton Thomas Sigel.

Aside from being exceptionally well-choreographed, the action works because Hargrave shoots it clearly and distinctly. No frantic quick-cuts or headache-inducing shaky cams. It’s allowed to play out in front of the camera instead of being chopped up in the editing room. It’s an applause-worthy choice and a welcomed change from what we often get. The action is also helped by the physicality Hemsworth brings. Neatly shorn and Mjölnir-free, the Aussie fights with a ferocity and grit unlike anything he’s done before.

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Photo Courtesy of Netflix

Performance-wise Hemsworth is limited by a role that mainly asks him to show intensity and brood. It makes sense within the story. He’s a broken and tortured man with bullets whizzing by in nearly ever frame. Thankfully there a couple of scenes where he gets to soften a bit and the script gives us a glimpse inside of his character. Hemsworth sells them well. Outside of the nameless, faceless contributors to the body count (and there are a ton of them), the main antagonist does fare as well. He’s more of a thinly sketched caricature – evil and abhorrent but without an ounce of depth.

But in the movie’s defense, it is very self-aware. It doesn’t want to be character study or a think piece. It’s not interested in commentary or metaphors. Instead “Extraction” is a throwback to the better action movies of the late 80’s to mid-90’s. It’s straightforward, unapologetic and an absolute blast. At the same time, debut director Sam Hargrave pushes his film to be more than just another genre entry. He brings an expertise and enthusiasm that shows itself in every fight, every shootout, and every chase.

VERDICT – 4 STARS

4-stars

22 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Extraction” (2020)

  1. I didn’t read the whole review because I didn’t want to know all of it, but I did see the banner on netflix last night and wondered if it would be any good. Now I know it’s worth a watch, thanks!

    • It is such a blast and a great throwback to some of the action movies I grew up on. Best is how it’s filmed. It’s shot so well and filmed where you can actually see and decipher the action. I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on it.

      • Will let you know. Right now I’m watching S2 of Ricky Gervais in “After Life.” (SO FUNNY!) 2 episodes to go then will check it out.

    • You sound like my wife. LOL. In her defense she does love a good old-school action flick. But she doesn’t mind admitting that Hemsworth is a big PLUS for her. 🙂

  2. I heard some varied opinions but the overall consensus is that it’s a fun action film. I might check it out. Plus, I like Chris Hemsworth. He’s definitely showing more range as an actor in recent years.

    • It’s a lot of fun. A straight action picture that embraces the genre rather than reshape it. And Hemsworth is tough, gritty and brings a ton of physicality to the role. Definitely check it out.

  3. I would have to say that it wasn’t bad for what it was. If you’re going in for a wall-to-wall action flick, that’s what you’re going to get. The action is some of the best I’ve seen in a while. That 12-minute chase sequence that looked like a long take was absolutely incredible. However, when the film isn’t throwing bullets or explosions at you, it grinds to a halt. The attempts at emotion don’t really work, at least not for me and really took me out of the film.

    • Interesting. I actually liked the softer moments. My only complaint is that there weren’t more to them. We get a very surface-level look at Tyler and I wanted a little more. Still the action is the bread-and-butter and it really delivers there.

  4. Aw, I didn’t enjoy it as much. I thought the plot was way more convoluted than it should have been. The settings were underused, which is a shame since India is beautiful. I also found it really difficult to care for Tyler or Ovi. Still, it’s a decent action flick. The fight choreography is its saving grace!

    • Thanks for reading. It’s interesting because I felt the felt was extremely bare. I can see where the setting could have been better utilized but I was pretty impressed with how they used the density of the city. We definitely agree on the fight choreography. Some of those scenes were ferocious!

  5. You are a lot more positive on this movie than I am about to be! In fact it’s made me rethink my approach to writing about it. But in the end, have to go with my gut. It just doesn’t do enough interesting things for me to say I was a fan. I will give the movie that action sequence — that was really well-done — and on the whole the hand-to-hand combat is brutal. But all I remember from this movie are those moments and the sheer amount of bullets flying by. Wasn’t much of a story here. Or at least enough for me, anyway.

    • That’s fair. The story is very light and pretty basic stuff. As a fan of throwback action movies (we don’t get many of them these days) I was kinda expecting that though. Perhaps a little nostalgia played into it. I just found the action so riveting and exciting that it carried the rest for me.

  6. OK, I watched it last night. A fitting title is “Bollywood Wick-esque Killfest.” I agree it is a great movie for what it is and it does what it does very well. I admit Hemsworth was my main draw. His physical endurance is to be admired in the realm of action hero. I think they did the tender bits *very* well and even squeezed a few tears out of me. For this type of movie that is unheard of. Parts I didn’t think made sense is how the dad’s main henchman played adversary with Tyler and the kid at first then they worked together. I also didn’t like how they had to get over the bridge to get to the chopper. With all of those roofs around a quick roof landing would have made so much more sense. Other than that I enjoyed the film very much!

    • I like that title. Why didn’t they think of that! LOL!

      SPOILERS….My interpretation of the two mercenaries fighting and then working together goes like this: Saju was worried that Tyler wouldn’t turn the kid over after realizing he wasn’t getting paid. If that happened the boy’s dad already said he would kill Saju’s son. So he was going to swipe Ovi and kill Tyler is necessary. But once he saw Tyler was okay, he joined him to get the kid out of town safely. As for the helicopter, all I can think of is that the other side of the bridge was a new jurisdiction and they could land safely. You still have to wonder if they could have done a rooftop extraction at some point.

  7. Finished watching it tonight. Started watching a couple of nights ago, enjoyed the first hour but it kind of wore me out, so I took a break and caught the second hour tonight. I think I’m more often disappointed in Netflix movies than favorable towards them, but this is a good one. I think a little less action in the two big scenes would be more exciting, not less exciting, eventually there is a bit of sameness to it. But that’s a minor criticism, as you say, the guy directs the scenes very well without the shaky cam business. Maybe a bit of influence from John Wick.

    So here is a question – what did you make of the very last frame, when the kid pops his head up from the pool? I wonder if it’s a sort of rorschach test, you interpret it in a way you want to. But I’m curious if you had any thoughts.

    • I think there are two ways to read it. First the most obvious and that is that Tyler lived and was either watching over the kid or going to surprise it and let him know he survived.

      But another reading could be that Tyler is dead and that fuzzy out-of-focus figure was more of a spiritual image. Basically saying that Ovi is not alone and that he can move forward with his life and that he’s not alone.

      But to be honest, I think it was filmed to be as ambiguous as possible that way the audience can fully decide for themselves if Tyler is alive or dead.

      • Your first thought is how I took it, hadn’t thought of the second idea you mention.

      • I believe it was really him. I mean it’s a very straightforward story from start to finish. I figure a straightforward reading of the end makes the most sense.

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