Reel Review - Extraction (2020)
There’s nothing original about Extraction but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a bloody well entertaining film and that you can’t bloody well enjoy it.
Mercenary Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) is hired to recover the kidnapped son of an Indian drug lord. When the deal goes south, he finds himself trapped in a city that wants him and his “package” dead. In this grim situation, Rake is forced to confront his past so that he can move forward.
Based on the graphic novel Ciudad by Ande Parks, Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Fernando León González and Eric Skillman, Extraction is an action-packed, high-octane and violent thrill ride that is, while cinemas around the world remain closed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the closest thing we have to a springtime blockbuster.
While the film might just be another addition to the “mercenary with a heart of gold” or “hitman with heart” subgenre of action films—for older cinephiles, it will bear a striking narrative resemblance to 2004’s Man On Fire—it does a very impressive job of navigating this well-worn path and will keep audiences popping popcorn while Hemsworth pops bad guys. Of course, we never doubt Tyler Rake’s moral character—his decisions, and ultimately his fate, are obvious from the first scene—and this does deprive us of a deeper level of tension and excitement… but it also allows us to enjoy the rip-roaring action for what it is without getting overly heady about it all.
Chris Hemsworth was particularly well-cast for the role and you have to imagine that producers Joe and Anthony Russo, after working with Hemsworth in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, had something to say about which actor had the ability to pull off the film’s balancing act between deadpan humour and dramatic tenor. Surprisingly, for a shoot ‘em up action movie, everyone on screen actually holds their own and this helps to give the film a sense of gravitas that it otherwise would not have had.
Director Sam Hargrave deserves credit for some of the technical achievements and for embracing the “action” part of “lights, camera, action”. He filmed from the bonnet of a speeding vehicle, for goodness’ sake. Choreography is another standout element in this film though, between John Wick and Atomic Blonde, neither the choreography nor the fancy editing is terribly original.
There are some low-rent production moments—there’s a truck explosion that looks better suited to a sandbox PS4 game than a feature film—which makes Extraction feel like something the Russos made as a kind of working vacation project following their exhausting efforts for Kevin Feige and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Nevertheless, the money was well-spent in the areas where it mattered most.
Extraction may have received some criticism for its “aimless” violence though the original comic was equally brutal and it’s hard to believe that the stakes would have felt as real without the sheer savagery of it all. Would audiences have believed that the focal character—a teenage kid—was in actual mortal danger when the all too telegenic Chris Hemsworth was backhand slapping teenage thugs? No. We needed to see blood to believe it and Sam Hargrave gave it in spades.
Extraction is about as action-packed as a film can get and its high-energy, high-octane, unapologetic fun is exactly what movie lovers—and movies—need right now.