When a movie has Chris Hemsworth in the lead and is directed by Sam Hargrave (stunt coordinator in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), you know the action is going to be great. Extraction promises thrilling chase sequences and multiple explosions, and it doesn’t disappoint on that count. But for an action film, there are way too many hazy flashbacks, extended conversations and characters we barely know anything about.
Ovi Mahajan (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) is a typical Indian teenager: hangs out with friends, tries unsuccessfully to talk to his crush, sneaks out after dark… and somehow ends up getting kidnapped. That’s when we learn that he is the son of imprisoned drug lord, Ovi Mahajan Sr (Pankaj Tripathi). The abduction is commissioned by his Bangladeshi rival, Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli), although we are never told exactly why. Someone should have spilled the tea on their feud at some point during the two-hour-long movie.
All about action
Mahajan’s right-hand man, Saju (Randeep Hooda) is tasked with bringing the boy back from Dhaka alive — if he fails, his son will be killed. Saju turns to a black market mercenary task force, led by Golshifteh Farahani as Nik Khan. There is a lot of ambiguity surrounding this group: who are they, what is the kind of work they do, how do they get clients? But all we know is that they work with Tyler Rake (Hemsworth), an Australian ex-military operative who is given the mission.
- Platform: Netflix
- Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Priyanshu Painyuli, Pankaj Tripathi, David Harbour, Golshifteh Farahani
- Storyline: A fearless black market mercenary, embarks on the most deadly extraction of his career — to rescue the kidnapped son of an imprisoned international crime lord
The pill-popping alcoholic has a painful past, depicted by a blurry shot of a child playing by the sea. Hemsworth looks suitably tortured in these moments, but is all business when it is time to beat up the bad guys. Recreating Hargrave’s choreography, be it gun fights or hand-to-hand combat, comes effortlessly to him. Same for Hooda: he is fantastic both as a fighter and as a man desperate to save his son’s life. In one scene, he looks directly in the mirror and snaps his broken nose back into place: simple enough, but the intensity in his eyes is striking.
In a city teeming with military and police looking for Rake, a white man carrying an arsenal, and Ovi, a skinny young boy, the unlikely duo have several close shaves. David Harbour’s cameo as Gaspar helps them escape capture far too conveniently, although it ends up being a friend-turned-foe situation.
Ovi and Rake’s interactions are sweet and serve the purpose of building a bond. But why is a powerful man like Asif interrogating a bunch of kids about some missing money? It seems too minor an issue for him to be handling personally. His incessant costume changes are also puzzling. And if Painyuli is attempting to be quietly threatening and authoritative, it does not come across. Add some cliched dialogues to the mix, and you have a villain who is more meh than menacing.
Keeping it simple
Hargrave’s pride and joy of the film — an almost 12-minute-long single shot — is executed beautifully, and is easily the most gripping stretch. But with 40 minutes to go for the end, you are still left waiting for more action. After all, we came to see stuff get blown up, like a rugged version of 6 Underground , not watch people talk about their feelings.
Joe Russo’s script (based on Ciudad, a graphic novel co-written by the Russo brothers and Ande Parks) could have delved deeper into the past of the drug lords and fleshed out Rake’s story. Ovi comes across as a poor little rich boy, but more from his perspective would show why he was looking for a connection with Rake. It would have given us more reason to be invested in the story and the characters, and understand their motivations. Perhaps in his next directorial outing, Hargrave should stick to one genre, because the action/emotion combination doesn’t seem to have worked this time around.
Extraction streams on Netflix from April 24