It’s all the macho action flicks of the past decade rolled into one. Parts “Man On Fire”, “John Wick”, “The Raid” and “Mile 22”. Stunt coordinator turned director Sam Hargrove choreographs intense action of pure relentless motivation. Hargrave’s action sequences are staged and executed so expertly it’s an experience that we should have gotten in theaters. Produced by star Chris Hemsworth, written by “Avengers Infinity War and Endgame” directors Joe and Anthony Russo. “Extraction” is sure to be a huge hit for Netflix. It’s that genre macho movie that has paper thin character development and plot, but is an action fans dream. With theaters shutdown and our stay at home order, Netflix has just given us our summer blockbuster. It’s the shot of adrenaline we need right now.
Chris Hemsworth is often cast in physical roles, with his agent and film producers working hard to transform him into the hulking action leading man. Sadly Hemsworth’s film career outside of “Avengers” and his “Thor” films, have been less than stellar at the box office. It’s a shame because Hemsworth is a good actor and his film choices are great, especially in “Rush”, “In The Heart Of The Sea” and “BlackHat”. All films that deserved a bigger audience.
Recently, he’s done time in “Men in Black: International” and “12 Strong”, two of his worst films while he continues his work in the MCU as Thor. Hemsworth is the newest actor to headline a Netflix released film and while he is still looking for a hit outside of “Thor”. The big budgeted Netflix original “Extraction” (which Hemsworth also produces), is the sort of action vehicle that utilizes his physicality well.
“Extraction” is meant to be his “John Wick”. Directed by Sam Hargrave (in his directorial debut), a veteran stuntman who was in charge of “Avengers: Endgame”, “Captain America: Winter Soldier”, “Atomic Blonde”, “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”, “Gangster Squad” and about a dozen other Marvel and DC films. His expertise in stunt work and choreographing action sequences, makes “Extraction” as a very specific attempt to deliver controlled chaos for its audience.
Hargrave goes hard with the extended chase sequences and moments of highly choreographed macho brawling. It’s Hargrave’s helming debut, but the raw power of the movie is impressive as he makes good use of Hemsworth’s non-Thor appeal, offering the leading star a chance to pound bad guys around like rag dolls.
“Extraction” is based on a graphic novel that was written, and now adapted by, “Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame” co-director Joe Russo. The plot is simple…when drug lord baddie Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli) kidnaps young Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), his parents hire Tyler Rake (Hemsworth) to get him back. Rake is part of an elite team of mercenaries who travel to India to make the extraction.
The bulk of the movie focuses on the propulsive chase through the streets of India. Rake has to secure Ovi and then keep him safe from the plethora of baddies who want to capture Ovi and deliver him back to Asif. That’s where stunt coordinator turned director Sam Hargrave assembles his symphony of destruction. Hargrave gives us an 80’s style action film (this would have been a perfect fit for Schwarzenegger or Van Damme back in the day), while mixing the best elements of Tony Scott and Denzel Washington’s “Man On Fire” with Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg’s “Mile 22”.
Just Hemsworth’s characters name alone bleeds cool. With a name like Tyler Rake, you can bet your grandmas bed of flowers that Tyler will take out one of these baddies with some kind of gardening instrument. It’s one of many gnarly kills of the hundreds of expendable extras. Nothing is off limits as heads are treated poorly, kids are thrown off buildings, broken bones protrude, bodies are thrown around and people are riddled with bullets. Such grotesquerie signifies just how hard the R-rating is on this Netflix release.
The action doesn’t end there as the pace of “Extraction” is relentless, intense, and of pure motivation. Hargrave tries to top Keanu and his team by taking from the playbook of “John Wick” and Gareth Evans “The Raid”. Like both films, Hargrave uses their fight techniques when Tyler gets into close quarters with the opposing side and incorporates the environment around him in his attacks.
Once Ovi (the boy Tyler is trying to save) is involved, the fights start to have layers and flow between Tyler and Ovi. Hargrave’s camera flow is smooth as he films fight scenes where a character moves to the foreground, as the other fight remains just as detailed as it’s going on in the background. The camera follows Tyler and Ovi from rooftops to back alleys gracefully. It’s handheld but not as frenetic as the “Jason Bourne” movies. Hargrave frames the carnage in well edited, easy to follow chunks.
Hargrave gets in on the frontlines of the action by strapping himself onto the hood of a car to get the most visceral shots for the big car chase. The chase ensues with footage from a camera nestled in the backseat to ensure a shot isn’t missed. Shot like the similar car chase in Blake Lively’s recent thriller “The Rhythm Section” (although they filmed that from the passenger seat). Did I mention there is even a great fight scene between Hemsworth and a group of rebel tween kids who are trying to prove themselves to drug lord Amir.
The action design is near perfection, with Hargrave and his director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel pulling off some really impressive long-take action scenes. “Extraction” also earns its hard-R rating, with heavy duty carnage and some pretty cold blooded kills courtesy of the hiss worthy villain.
“Extraction” is 90% firing on all cylinders, but does take a moment for us to catch our breath and slows down when Rake and Ovi find shelter. This is where Joe Russo utilizes his time for his paper thin character development as Rake reveals his emotional backstory.
While the action sequences are staged and executed so expertly. The character development and plot is simple and the films end I didn’t buy as it has an exasperating cop-out while being a little hard to swallow. As I thought about the ending more, I became more ok with it and that it doesn’t exactly mean as it seems. It’s one of those endings that requires your self interpretation. As imperfect as some of these things may be, this is still a must-see and I would have loved to have watched it on the big screen.
Chris Hemsworth is great in full on action mode. It’s gritty, balls to the wall and a perfect distract for us. With theaters being shutdown and as we serve our time during the stay at home order, Netflix has just given us our summer blockbuster.
“Extraction” will hopefully serve as the first in a new franchise for Netflix. The gruelling action flick does enough to suggest that Hemsworth has found his genre, once he hangs up that hammer. It’s that rare Netflix movie where you wish you could have seen it on the big screen as the blockbuster it is. It’s the exact shot of adrenaline we needed right now.
GRADE: ★★★1/2☆☆ (3 & 1/2 out of 5)