Extraction works best when you can stomach its almost never-ending tirade of violence. It never ends, and by the time the credits roll a gratuitous amount of blood has been spilled. The preference for gruesome deaths makes Sam Hargrave’s escape thriller a bare-knuckled punch to the gut, but if anyone is going to bleed for you, it might as well be Chris Hemsworth.
A seemingly fearless and invincible mercenary, Tyler Rake (Hemsworth, who doesn’t seem to know why that’s his name either), is hired to rescue an imprisoned crime lord’s son (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) from… wait for it… another crime lord. What is on paper a dangerous but simple job becomes Rake’s most life-threatening assignment ever, as he tangles with corrupt colonels and a former Indian special ops recruit.
If you watch Extraction hoping for a no-holds barred brawl, then buckle up. Much has already been made of the eight-minute long take (and it is very impressive, putting even most of 1917 to shame), but even without that, the action choreography is hypnotic. Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel whips between scaled-up shots of macho violence and closer, more intense moments of manic fighting that throw you face first into the action. At its best, parts of Extraction are almost impossible to look away from, and that is in no small part down to Hemsworth, who delivers one of his most capable leading turns outside of the Marvel Universe. Gruff, tough, and with just enough of an emotional side to keep him interesting, Rake is a good excuse for Hemsworth to get his hands dirty: Extraction is all the better for letting one of Hollywood’s best action stars off-leash.
The Russo brothers managed to capture a dramatic, unpredictable arc to Thor in the last two Avengers films, but sadly two heads truly seem better than one. Joe Russo’s script feels uninventive, and while it is executed well, it still feels aged. Hemsworth as the heroic white man who cleans up the dirty streets of ‘third world’ Dhaka, in particular, feels recklessly outdated – the disregard for collateral damage does little to help that. Too many characters don’t get the depth they deserve, and the story is lacking in any much-needed lighter moments which Extraction’s heavy-handed violence does little to help.
In the end, while Extraction may hardly be a lesson on how to write an action movie, it is a competent course on how to shoot one, and Hemsworth’s leading charisma is enough to keep you glued to this (occasionally magnetic) thrill ride.
Extraction is available to stream on Netflix.