Directed by: Sam Hargrave
Written by: Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Farahani
Action for action’s sake makes for some thrilling sequences, but when it’s all over, what was the point? A question that I found myself thinking at many different points of Extraction. A film that wanted to be an epic action flick, and tries its best to build such extravagant action sequences to make you forget that it has nothing else to offer.
In need of some money, Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) takes the newest opportunity to make some income with his specialty of extracting people from dangerous situations. He must go into Bangladesh and save the son of one drug dealer out of the captivity of another.
Everything you need to know of this story can be summarized in those two sentences above because everything else surrounds the action sequences. The film sells itself on some brutal fighting to take place and it certainly delivers in that regard. Rake gets involved in gunfights and close combat with several foes in his attempts to get Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) out of Bangladesh. In the process of getting him out, he has to take on an entire police force and the gang forces of the crime lord that controls that particular city. It feels like an impossible task, as the story teases you with the small distances they have to go in order to escape but they can’t move a block without having to cover from gunfire.
The shining jewel of the entire film arrives towards the middle where the camera tracks both Rake and Ovi through these set of apartments. Ovi attempts to run for safety and Rake fights off the police. It shows incredible direction and has some thrilling moments. In that entire sequence, they did not need quick cuts to hide the action, everything looks incredibly clear. Each blow has a purpose and each bone-crunching moment lands.
The shortcomings arise when you get towards the end when the closing credits roll and you ask yourself what the entire point of the story was. There really isn’t any and the sad moments have no resonance because the characters feel anonymous. Rake has almost no characterization except for trying to save Ovi from all certain death. Nearly every other character just happens to be a piece of exposition for the story. Rake has a crew that he seems to work with and I could not recall any of their names when the credits close because they don’t matter to the story at all. It makes all of the action in the film feel pointless in a way.
Additionally, it’s unfortunate that we still have films where we have a white dude walk into a nation of brown folks just to shoot everyone up. I understand that the people Rake is taking down are corrupt cops and gang members, but the optics of it all just feels wrong, especially in 2020. They try to throw in one man, who happens to be an ally but we should be beyond entire plots where the only trustworthy person that’s not shown as a savage killer happens to be the white guy. It’s just not a good look.
Hemsworth’s character, Rake, has one thing about him meant for the audience to connect to and the Australian actor works hard to make it relevant to the story. His performance happens to be fine in action star standards where he needs to have a mean mug while he shoots and stabs people. There happens to be nothing very interesting about Rake, so he lets his fighting do all of the heavy lifting, which works but it feels hollow in the end. It makes me wonder what direction Hemsworth wants to take with his career, which has been mostly kept up from his portrayal of Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Outside of those large tent poles, he has dabbled in other franchises, comedies, and prestige dramas. None of them have really worked and it feels like he’s just trying to find his niche as his time portraying the Asgardian comes to a close fairly soon. I could see him taking on this action star persona, seeing as he certainly has the physicality for it. Personally, I think his turns into comedy have shown that he has some good comedic timing that would fare him well, but it appears he wants to achieve that leading man status, so I’m intrigued to see what he decides to tackle next.
When all the bullets run out and the smoke clears, Extraction will leave you still hungry for something of substance. The action sequences and impressive camera placement serves as a nice doughnut that brings some sweet deliciousness that satisfies momentarily. Unfortunately, when the donut is gone, you’ve realized that you’re still hungry and you’ve ingested hundreds of calories with no real nutrition or substance in return. However, I do enjoy having doughnuts once in a while.