Chris Hemsworth stars in and produces the latest film produced and developed by his Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo. The AGBO production company run by the brothers has already produced an action vehicle for one of their Avengers with last years so-so 21 Bridges, and this latest (which Joe Russo wrote) is a similar stand-alone actioner that aims to hark back to the more focused self-contained action flicks of the ’90s and early ’00s. While stuntman turned director Sam Hargrave does display some decent chops behind the camera, it’s not in the service of something that is particularly marvelous.
Hemsworth plays a whiskey slugging black market mercenary with a death wish called Tyler Rake. His new mission seems simple enough: rescue the son of India’s biggest drug lord from Bangladesh, where he is being held for ransom by that country’s biggest drug lord. What should be a fairly normal extraction though soon turns into a fight for survival as corrupt police and elite forces lockdown the city, leaving Rake and the boy with little option but to shoot their way out.
Extraction doesn’t waste any time getting to the action. The extraction of the title is set up very quickly, laying down the tensions between the warring drug lords efficiently enough to get the ball rolling and drop Rake into the city of Dhaka where the son, Ovi (played by Rudhraksh Jaiswal) is being held. Rake himself is also quickly established as that kind of mercenary with a dark past just looking for the next job, with little hope or desire in his life. It’s all very perfunctory stuff that you’ve seen before in films of this ilk, but the momentum is there to drive the film to the real reason why you came: the action.
Hargrave’s experience as a stuntman does shine through when it comes to the action of Extraction. Akin to the likes of John Wick and Atomic Blonde, much of the gunplay and combat here is bone crushing, rough, bloody and very well performed by Hemsworth and a team of great stunt players. Much has been made over the film’s showcase sequence, which is an 18 minute action sequence designed to look like one shot as Rake and Ovi wind their way through the streets of Dhaka. It is an impressive sequence, as is the case with any sequence of its kind. These are hard things to pull off, and Extraction certainly has an ambitious spirit in this regard. But in an age where audiences are getting more savvy to the tricks employed to make such effects appear seamless, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got your bases covered, but some of the stitching is a bit too apparent in Extraction to allow yourself to get truly lost in the mayhem.
Pretty soon though, even the action becomes a bit repetitive, as it becomes clear that the film peaks after its key action set piece. The story itself is not enough to compensate when the action levels out. It feels like a muddled together combination of gritty thriller elements that doesn’t prove to be very engaging. The film asks you to hinge a lot on the relationship that grows between Rake and Ovi, but the story relies far too much on cliche to develop it, making the central relationship unconvincing and not particularly engaging. The cast do their best, and Hemsworth displays an incredible level of physicality that further cements him as a bonafide action star, but Rake himself isn’t a character that allows for the star’s more natural charisma to come through all that much.
Extraction does offer some violent action to thrill you for a couple of hours. But it is in service of a story that lacks personality and intrigue, one that doesn’t really use its location to particularly great effect (some of the geography in the action scenes also ends up being a little foggy from time to time). The frantic pacing and decent sense of momentum does just about enough to maintain your attention, but you can’t help but feel that all the talent both in front and behind the camera feels a little wasted when it comes to the story that the film is telling. It’s a brutal, pretty joyless action movie that aims to awe with visceral action. But once you get beyond all the bullets and mayhem, you quickly realise that the film doesn’t have much else to offer.
Dir: Sam Hargrave
Scr: Joe Russo, story by Ande Parks, Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Farahani, Pankaj Tripathi, Priyanshu Painyuli, David Harbour
Prd: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Chris Hemsworth, Mike Larocca, Eric Gitter, Peter Schwern
DOP: Newton Thomas Sigel
Music: Henry Jackman, Alex Belcher
Country: United States
Run time: 117 minutes
Extraction is on Netflix now.