North Texas Daily

‘Extraction’ is a bloody good time, if nothing else

‘Extraction’ is a bloody good time, if nothing else

‘Extraction’ is a bloody good time, if nothing else
April 27
14:00 2020

“You drown not by falling into the river, but by staying submerged.”

Ovis Mataghan Jr. (Rudhraksh Jaiswal)  is the son of a powerful drug lord who’s behind bars. On a night out, rivals kidnap Ovis and hold him for ransom. Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) is an elite mercenary tasked with rescuing Ovis. Rake may have a death wish, but he’s the best chance Ovis has got.

Extraction” is the newest Netflix Original and the directorial debut for Sam Hargrave, a stuntman and coordinator for “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” It is no coincidence then, that the film’s producers are Joe and Anthony Russo, the former of whom wrote “Extraction’s” script and enlisted fellow Marvel alum Hargrave for the job of directing.

Now, stuntmen becoming directors can end up in two extreme positions — you can become Chad Stahleski and David Leitch of the awesome “John Wickfranchise, or you can become Vic Armstrong, director of the not quite so-bad-its-good Nic Cage flick, “Left Behind.”

If “Extraction” is any indicator, I think Hargrave is leaning toward the former of the two, though there is much room for improvement here.

First, the acting is good. Hemsworth brings a lot of charisma and physicality to Tyler Rake, whose characterization you can guess right off the bat — dead child, a moody jerk with a heart of gold. Hemsworth does, seemingly, all of his own stunts, making him further credible as this rugged mercenary who can leap from moving cars, kill five men in as many seconds and can throw you like a rag doll.

Newcomer Rudkhraksh Jaiwswal is also decent with what (very little) he’s given. Golshifteh Farahani is serviceable as Nik Khan, Rake’s boss who oversees the mission. David Harbour also gets a three-scene role as Gaspar, a friend of Rake’s whose gone native. He’s pretty fun in those scenes, though it is heavily telegraphed what kind of archetype he is and how he’ll factor into the story.

The standout, though, is Randeep Hooda as Saju, the right-hand man of Ovi’s father and an elite killer in his own right. Not only does he do his own stunts, he has a pretty strong presence in his own right and makes for a formidable combatant who can cut down just as many men as Rake. He also has a bigger emotional stake in the plot, so I wonder why they didn’t just combine his character with Hemsworth’s or make it the lead. Yes, there would have been less going on, but it also would’ve tightened the pacing and given the audience a more empathetic hero.

The plot is also very paper-thin. You’ve seen everything before, in fact, I’m just going to say it’s kind of a huge rip off of the Denzel Washington-led “Man On Fire.” It follows the same skeleton structure, it has some of the same twists, even the color grading appears to take some pretty big cues from Tony Scott, that director’s film, in general. At one point, the film was even titled “Out of the Fire.” 

There is this attempt to give some sort of thematic weight to Rake and Ovi through the symbolic use of water, surmised by the quote this review kicks off with. It’s nothing great, but it adds a tiny bit of depth and shows that Russo and Hargrave wanted this to stand out from the pack. If they’d built on it more, we might have had a story with more emotional depth.

Of course, no one is really here for any of that. Anyone putting this on wants to watch for the action, which is phenomenal (for Netflix). The fighting is real raw here — close-up, somewhat shaky but not to the point where it hinders believability or comprehension. The John Wick influence is pretty strong, with Hemsworth and others combining martial art punches and grappling with point-blank head shots and double taps. There’s also quite a lot of blood here, both CGI and practical, spurting from wounds and heads.

One of the best is the first real action scene where Rake breaks out of captivity in a rundown Bengaladesh slum. After some gunplay, he flings people into brick walls, smashes a glass cup against the face of a charging thug, stabs a man to death with a rake and kicks a table into a man’s neck. It’s all well-shot stuff and sets the tone for the rest of the film.

There’s this incredible 11-minute take about half an hour in. It’s obviously been pieced together from multiple takes, but it’s still incredible to witness. It starts as a car chase, not unlike the one from “The Rhythm Section,” and evolves into a John Wick-style killing spree in an apartment complex, climaxing in a knife-fight between Hemsworth and before ending not too long after. Multiple cars get wrecked and flipped over, hordes of corrupt cops get shot point-blank in the face and trucks ram into people. While the car chase portion is nowhere near as believably intense as that of “Rhythm Section’s,” the entire sequence is still a true feat of action filmmaking, showing just how committed Hargrave and the crew are to their craft.

For all its faults, “Extraction” is an enjoyable blast of bloody barbarity. There are better options, like “Man On Fire,” but if you want something new and fresh, you’ve come to the right place.

Still, Hemsworth is no Washington.

My rating: 3/5

Featured Illustration: Kylie Phillips

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Will Tarpley

Will Tarpley

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