Extraction Review: Hargrave and Hemsworth deliver mind-blowing action and thrills in new Netflix film
Bringing together a surprisingly solid MCU ensemble, Netflix’s newest action thriller, Extraction, is a wildly engaging thriller with a top-tier performance for Chris Hemsworth and eye-widening action.
The film follows Tyler (Hemsworth), a fearless and ruthless Black-Market mercenary with a haunting past that has destroyed his life. One day he’s presented with an extraction mission to retrieve the kidnapped son of an international imprisoned crime lord. Although the mission seems straightforward at first, Tyler quickly realizes that there’re multiple people after the kid, Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswl), and is forced to take drastic actions to keep him safe. However, as things begin to get deadlier as more players enter in to get Ovi for themselves, Tyler is going to have to face his inner demons and possibly even risk his own life to return Ovi home.
Although Extraction might be the feature directorial debut of Sam Hargrave, he’s actually had quite an impressive career as a stunt coordinator and fight choreographer. With an onslaught of Marvel movies, Pirates of the Caribbean films, and Hunger Games films under his belt, he’s more than capable of delivering incredible action sequences – and he certainly shows that here. Extraction has some of the best action I’ve seen lately and can even be seen as a strong rival to the John Wick franchise. The hand-to-hand combat is incredibly smooth through all the choreography and editing and the film holds nothing back in delivering hard hits that make you want to see them again and again. The sense of brutality Tyler has in his fighting creates some absolutely bad ass moments that makes you see Hemsworth in a whole new light and, for the most part, it’s actually pretty mind-blowing how realistic the action comes off.
The action is fast-paced without everything going by in a blur and Hargrave utilizes the environment incredibly well to create perfectly sharp turns and memorable moments. There’s this one elongated fight sequence that Hargrave includes at a pivotal turn in the film that’s made to look as if it’s done in one take and it’s filled with everything that makes this film such an action-packed blast. You have a great car chase sequence that’s constantly moving in pace and shifting between different perspectives, Hemsworth being a total beast in displaying Tyler’s vicious and calm demeanor, and an insanely high body count that gives John Wick and any kind horror movie slasher a run for their money. Even just having the world around Tyler still in motion with cars running by or even running into him during a fight gives the film a sense of realism that makes viewers engaged with everything happening on-screen. Not to mention, it adds an unpredictability that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.
Unlike most of its similar genre brethren, Extraction trades in the glossy explosives for more grounded, gritty, and dark – and that’s especially true for Hemsworth’s performance. He’s not his completely jokey and overly charming self as he harnesses and evokes the deep-seeded trauma and cynicism that’s been growing in Tyler for years. He’s shown to be selfish in how he initially views Ovi and even remorseless in the destruction he causes in order to complete his mission. However, his sometimes dark and brooding attitude never makes him unlikable or even unrelatable and the script from Joe Russo actually allows him to shed his unemotional skin throughout the film as he overcomes his inner demons and past trauma. Essentially, you’re watching someone slowly awake to what they’ve become and tries to write his wrongs. Hemsworth is really at the center of all of this and he gives a committed and confident performance that easily one of the best of his career.
However, outside of the incredibly directed action and Hemsworth, there’s not too much talk about with Extraction since the story, based off a graphic novel written by the Russo Brothers and Ande Parks, is just fine. As a whole, it’s a pretty typical action-hero redemption story that lacks the substance it thinks it has to be anything more. Outside of Tyler, none of the characters have as much depth to them and are only fleshed out in the part they play in the film’s world building – which is pretty solid. The other performances are also solid, based on what they’re given, but you can still feel the genre tropes they represent and because the spotlight is so heavily given to Tyler, it’s hard for them to shake some their clichés. Even for all the greatness of Hargrave’s action, it’s hard not to spot some other genre clichés, like Tyler pretty much being unstoppable and seemingly always having endless ammunition. The opening and the sacrificial elements of the end, also give the film a generic feel that the rest of the film doesn’t and I wish the film leaned more heavily into its unique character and action elements more often than it does.
Extraction is definitely the first big surprise of 2020, a good one, as Hargrave’s direction is immaculate in creating refreshing and heart-pounding sequences in which Hemsworth repeatedly rips open cans of whoop-ass in a career-best performance. If you have a Netflix subscription, you need to watch it. If not, at least think about it.