REVIEW: Extraction (2020)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Extraction — Directed by Sam Hargrave.

The straight-to-Netflix action thriller Extraction is based on the comic book Ciudad, which was written by Ande Parks (comic book writer), and the Russo brothers (the directors of Avengers: Endgame, one of whom also wrote Extraction). Extraction was even directed by a Marvel movie veteran. This is the directorial debut of Sam Hargrave, who has experience as a stunt double and stunt coordinator on multiple Marvel movies. Unlike Disney-Marvel movies, however, Extraction is filled to the brim with excessive violence. Hargrave’s debut, though not narratively challenging, is a thrilling exercise in hectic action set pieces. It’s not exactly John Wick-quality, but it is one of the best Netflix original action films to have been released thus far.

Sam Hargrave’s Extraction tells the story of an Australian mercenary’s attempts to rescue the 14-year-old son of an Indian drug lord who has been kidnapped by a rival drug lord from Bangladesh. Chris Hemsworth plays the aforementioned mercenary, Tyler Rake, who is haunted by his tragic past. Rake reluctantly takes on this mission to rescue Ovi Mahajan, Jr. (played by Rudhraksh Jaiswal) from a notorious and ruthless Bangladeshi crime lord named Amir Asif (played by Priyanshu Painyuli), who, among other things, has an army of child soldiers. While Rake is very much in the process of extracting Ovi, the city is put on lockdown by Asif, and further chaos ensues when someone else — Saju (played by Randeep Hooda) — tries to take Ovi from Rake. Soon, Tyler Rake has no choice but to fight and shoot his way out of Dhaka, Bangladesh, in an attempt to complete his mission.

Since his short but memorable appearance in J. J. Abrams’ Star Trek from 2009, Chris Hemsworth has slowly but surely become a household name. In spite of strong appearances in films like Ron Howard’s Rush and Drew Goddard’s Bad Times at the El Royale, however, the Aussie actor’s stardom still very much relies on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and his role as Thor. He has tried to rejuvenate other franchises — in F. Gary Gray’s woeful Men in Black: International and Paul Feig’s polarizing Ghostbusters-reboot — to very little success. Outside of superhero films, the beefcake has found the most success with comedy. Although the films were largely unsuccessful, his appearances in both the aforementioned Ghostbusters-reboot and Goldstein & Daley’s Vacation-reboot were hilarious, and his newfound comedy chops were subsequently put to excellent use in films from Taika Waititi and the Russo brothers.

In Extraction, the God of Thunder-actor, however, tries his hardest to appear fit for gritty and hurried action films, and although the film is not a complete home run, Hemsworth does make a strong positive impression yet again. His co-stars are not much to write home about. Jaiswal, Hooda, and Golshifteh Farahani all hold their own with an a-list star like Chris Hemsworth, but their characters are all thinly written. Generally, Joe Russo’s generic but straightforward script is the main problem with the film. The vast majority of the narrative beats are very predictable, and many of the characters are underdeveloped. It also cannot be denied that this absolutely is a white savior-movie. All of that having been said, I do think that the film includes an interesting narrative arc in a subplot involving one of Asif’s child soldiers (played by Suraj Rikame). However, it is just one interesting element in an otherwise cliche-ridden story.

If you thought that Michael Bay’s Six Underground, another Netflix action film with a household name as its star, was too glossy and confusing, then Sam Hargrave’s debut is a solid countermeasure. Though it features similar fast-paced action, Hargrave’s film is gritty, dirty, and straightforward. Bay’s music video style has been switched out and replaced by hard-hitting and sometimes handheld action. Instead of Ryan Reynolds-like comedy, Extraction‘s idea of ‘comedy’ is having a character named Tyler Rake kill a criminal with a rake. It features excessive and brutal violence, and it sometimes feels like you’re watching a live-action video game. It achieves this effect via its fast-paced and gory action, its escort mission-like narrative, and its stitched-together continuous shots (including one elaborate and impressive 11-minute sequence made to appear as if it was one continuous shot).

Sam Hargrave’s Extraction is one of the better Netflix original action films that have been released thus far. Although the film suffers from a bland, predictable, and somewhat problematic script, the film works due to the first-time director’s ability to showcase hectic and electrifying action sequences. It isn’t much more than an exercise in above-average action filmmaking, but it is a solid action-star vehicle for Chris Hemsworth.

6.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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