Directed by: Sam Hargrave
Premise: Adapted from the graphic novel. The teenage son (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) of an imprisoned criminal is kidnapped by a rival drug lord. A mercenary (Chris Hemsworth) is recruited to rescue the boy.
What Works: The past few years have seen the return of practical action pictures. Movies like John Wick and Atomic Blonde and Extraction are of a piece with the action pictures of the 1980s and 90s starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, and Steven Seagal. However, these new action movies also benefit from elaborate stunt work and they are made in a crunchy and credible style that maintains plausibility. Extraction was directed by Sam Hargrave who had previously been the stunt coordinator on some of the Avengers films and Atomic Blonde. Hargrave’s talents are put to good use in Extraction. The movie is essentially a series of set pieces in which a mercenary escorts a teenager to safety. The action scenes are exceptional. They aren’t as polished as the set pieces of the John Wick films but they do have breadth and ambition. About halfway through the picture is a chase sequence through an apartment complex that is impressive in its intensity and continuity of action. Extraction benefits from the casting. Chris Hemsworth isn’t being asked to do anything extraordinary here but he’s well cast as the mercenary and brings credibility and physicality to the role. He’s well paired with Rudhraksh Jaiswal as the abducted teenager. The two of them relate to one another credibly in this extraordinary situation. The filmmakers also make effective use of their setting. Extraction mostly takes place in Bangladesh and the location gives the movie a unique look.
What Doesn’t: Extraction is a straightforward action picture. The story doesn’t really affirm or validate anything. It’s just a race with the characters getting from point A to point B. The characters are thin and most of them are who they initially appear to be and nothing more. The bad guys are bad, the good guys are good and nobody has much of a motivation. Hemsworth’s character is a man whose son has died; that’s a familiar trope among soldier of fortune characters found in movies like this. The backstory adds some depth to the mercenary’s relationship with his mark but there isn’t much to either of them. The filmmakers squander an opportunity to do something with the boy. He seems to be a good kid but his father is an incarcerated crime lord. The difference between the father and son is significant and plunging this nonviolent teenager into a life and death struggle could lead somewhere but the filmmakers never take advantage of the potential of the characters.
DVD extras: Currently available on Netflix.
Bottom Line: Extraction is a mostly average action picture. It doesn’t have much in the way of character but viewers come to a film like this for the set pieces and Extraction offers action sequences that are competitive with similar films.
Episode: #801 (May 24, 2020)