“Extraction” Movie Review


     Given his stunt credits in films such as “Avengers: Endgame”, “Atomic Blonde”, and numerous other notable action films, it stands to reason first time feature director Sam Hargrave would work within a realm of which he is fully confident.  And that’s exactly what he’s done with “Extraction”, a new film for Netflix produced by “Infinity War” & “Endgame” filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo and starring Marvel alum Chris Hemsworth.  The result is a sort of meld between “John Wick” and “Rambo”, as we follow a mercenary for hire on a brutal mission to rescue the teenage son of a Mumbai drug lord from the rival who has kidnapped him.  The film delivers action, gun play, and martial arts mayhem for the kind of fans who live to feast on copious amounts of carnage, but require little substance.

     The set up, courtesy of a script by Joe Russo, is as rudimentary as you would expect.  Why is it these hardcore former military types always seem to come off as gruff and isolated, while smoking, taking pain killers, and waking up jonesing for hard liquor?  They, of course, will then go on to perform a myriad of tasks that include sprinting in full gear, fighting multiple opponents, all while taking serious damage and in the process never breathing heavy or appearing fatigued.  Thats Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) in a nutshell, as early scenes give little indication of his skills and abilities in battle, but maybe he simply doesn’t enjoy the business side of his craft, opting instead to excel when going hands on.  He has a number of people he works with, including Nik Khan (Golshifteh Farahani), an operative who organizes the work Tyler will ultimately complete, boasting of the fact they have “bagged a whale” with their latest job.

     When Ovi Mahajan (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) is taken by his imprisoned father’s cross town competition in India’s drug trade, it’s up to the family’s keeper, Saju (Randeep Hooda), to find a way to get him back safely.  That’s where Tyler and Nik’s services come into play, as an elaborate plan is executed in order to extract the child right under the nose of Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli), the powerful and cruel drug boss who seeks to hurt his adversary when he is the weakest and unable to retaliate.  And when the operation initially goes as planned, Tyler and Ovi make their way to the transportation awaiting them for a return to safety.  But then something goes wrong, as Amir appears to control the city’s police force along with an army of street level hoodlums all united in finding and killing the duo.

     What ensues is a series of never ending foot chases, car chases, fight scenes, and gun battles made to play directly to both Hemsworth’s and Hargrave’s strengths.  And in what will likely be one of the most talked about sequences, the filmmakers string together a nearly fifteen minute action sequence shot as one take in the same manner as last year’s “1917”, resulting in the truly visceral experience of being as close to the characters as possible while they endure endless peril.  They jump out of moving vehicles.  They get hit by moving vehicles.  Tyler is shot, stabbed, and struck in the head repeatedly.  But the injuries are minimal enough that they move one to the next action sequence with minimum downtime.  Put it this way, you could argue Arnold’s T-800 took less damage than Tyler does in “Extraction”, which is why I half believed the third act would reveal him to be a cyborg sent from another time to save this kid, but the revelation never came.

     And thus the “Rambo” and “John Wick” comparisons.  John Rambo because of Tyler’s ability to dispatch dozens of armed soldiers, cops, and henchman with surgical precision.  John Wick because of the manner in which he typically does it, dropping multiple armed attackers with martial arts infused close quarters handgun techniques while favoring point blank headshots.  And the guy never gets a break.  Even when he believes he has a temporary safe haven with an old buddy, Gaspar (David Harbour), the tables soon turn all in the name of money as double crosses abound from all fronts.  It’s the kind of film where you’ll have a hard time finding a character with any redeemable qualities, but I suppose you could point to Tyler who flashes back to what we presume is his own son and thus explaining his efforts in saving Ovi at all costs.

     Action and marital arts fans; however, will find nothing to complain about.  Hargrave brings everything at his disposal, including an epic third act pitting forces from all sides against each other on a narrow bridge to freedom blocked by the corrupted police force.  And though we’ve seen this storyline play out so many times before, there’s a notable authenticity in the way each scene is shot.  As if Hargrave was paying attention to the many accomplished directors he has worked under in order to one day bring his own vision to the screen. If there’s a weak link, it’s the script whose hero would seem to feel right at home on the Avengers Campus where his incredible abilities would come with an explanation.  In the real world of which this story is set, it’s just too difficult to suspend disbelief. GRADE: C+