Netflix’s newest action spectacle, “Extraction,” begins with two cliches.
The 400-Word Review: Extraction
By Sean Collier
April 27, 2020
An injured man, perhaps near death, walks through what looks like a war zone. He has visions of happier times — hazy memories of figures running on a beach. As he sits down to either die or not, the camera fades to black; a title card rewinds the story, sending us to “Two Days Earlier.”
Both of these maneuvers — the heavy-filtered flashback of loved ones and a cold-open teaser depicting the climax of the tale — are exhaustedly overused. Perhaps I’m more sensitive because the Netflix action movie I reviewed just a week ago, “Sergio,” also began with the same cliches. Regardless, these crutches announce to the viewer that the filmmakers don’t know how to start a movie. “The beginning of this story is dull,” they’re saying, “so here’s a bit of the good part.”
In the case of “Extraction,” that doesn’t indicate a failed film — merely a limited one. Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth), a troubled mercenary, accepts a job rescuing a kidnapped boy (Rudhraksh Jaiswal). The lad’s father (Pankaj Tripathi) is India’s currently imprisoned top drug lord; the kidnapper (Priyanshu Painyuli) is his Bangaladeshi rival, and the kidnapping is more a statement of regional crime supremacy than an earnest extortion attempt.
There are complications. Rake’s chief rival is Raju (Randeep Hooda), the boy’s longtime bodyguard, whose loyalties are in question. Rake desperately seeks help from a former associate (David Harbour, who is underused). The people paying Rake seem to leave him in the lurch. None of these developments are of much consequence; “Extraction” exists only to string one action sequence to the next.
Such a project is not really the best use of Hemsworth. As anyone who has seen “Thor: Ragnarok” knows, his usefulness is not limited to being a reticent slab of Australian meat; his humor and charisma are his greatest assets, and (through no fault of his own) neither are particularly evident here. (It would’ve cost some star power, but the role probably should’ve gone to the equally hulking John Cena, who is at his best when he’s stoic.)
As for those action sequences, they’re certainly entertaining. “Extraction” is the directorial debut for longtime stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave, a Marvel veteran who specializes in fast-moving mayhem. On those terms, the film is a slight success. Just be prepared for buckets of blood and relatively little substance.
My Rating: 6/10
“Extraction” is streaming now on Netflix.