High-Octane Action is the Biggest Standout in ‘Extraction’ – Review
Extraction – or EXTRA ACTION as I like to call it – is the newest Netflix action movie directed by Sam Hargrave and produced by The Russo Brothers. It is based on the graphic novel Ciudad written by Andre Parks with story help from the Russo’s alongside illustrator Fernando León González. The Russo Brothers rose to superstardom status after their series of ambitious Marvel franchise hits like Captain America: Winter Soldier, Civil War, and the conclusion of Kevin Feige’s Infinity Saga (Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame).
Outside of directing gigantic superhero flicks, the Russos carved out a new lane of producing medium budget action thrillers starring MCU alumni. Their last venture 21 Bridges showcased Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman as a NYPD detective looking for answers surrounding a spree of cop killings. That movie – directed by Game of Thrones’ Brian Kirk – was a serviceable slice of entertainment that offered a modest amount of excitement with a sprinkle of racial subversion of the traditional cop-and-robber story.
This time around, Extraction stars Thor actor Chris Hemsworth as private underground mercenary Tyler Rake. He is assigned to extract a young boy named Ovi (Rudraksh Jaisawl) who is caught in the middle of a raging drug war at the hands of his imprisoned criminal father. However, things go awry once Rake’s extraction team is exposed – forcing him to fight his way out of the murky streets of Mumbai to deliver the kid to safety. The film is the directorial debut of Sam Hargrave – one of the stunt coordinators behind Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Endgame, Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde, and many other massive blockbuster movies. Unlike these CGI-heavy popcorn flicks, Extraction relies mostly on ground, gritty practical stunts to craft a pulsating, hyper-violent extravaganza.
Hargrave’s experience in stunts shines throughout the entirety of Extraction, as its high-octane action proves to be the biggest standout. The director and his camera crew prioritize the presentation of their extensive choreography work by using up close, handheld photography that heightens the tension without being overly shaky. Many of these kinetic sequences are presented in excruciatingly long oners. The most notable long take occurs at the end of the first act, with a 12-minute car chase sequence that I imagine took several weeks of intense preparation to execute. Huge moments like this are so expansive that Extraction appears to have been flooded with infinite resources; fitting nicely into Netflix’s growing collection of expensive action films like Michael Bay’s 6 Underground, Peter Berg’s Spenser Confidential, and J. C. Chandor’s Triple Frontier.
Narratively speaking, the movie does not necessarily break any new ground. The story is a relatively simple survival arch that provides enough turns and twists to make the scenes between the combat compelling. Jaisawl does a convincing job of playing the scared huntee next to Hemsworth’s rough, intrepid character. Unfortunately, Hemsworth (who also served as one of the movies’ producers) hardly elevates the material beyond the limited charisma and range as the script allows. Moreover, my enjoyment of the film is slightly tempered by falling into the white savior complex that has plagued cinema for over a century. It is not as egregious as other mercenary pictures (looking at you The Great Wall), but I would be remised if I did not acknowledge the tired Hollywood trope.
In general, Extraction is an amusing thrill ride with some highly stimulating action sequences. What it lacks in uniqueness in plotting is more than made up for in its impressive achievement in physical stunts. Though heavy in bloodshed and light on character development, Extraction is a worthwhile experience for fans of fast-paced gunplay and stunning hand-to-hand combat.