What do you get when you put Hemsworth, Russos and Netflix together?
The thing about one-word titled action movies is that they exist mainly as fillers to the genre’s growing catalogue and they do very little in advancing the clout and raising the field’s bar. And after we’ve seen the elusive hitman, John Wick tear through cities and a gazillion jaw-dropping car chases, even that has become hard to do. Insert: Extraction — Netflix’s newest installment in the elaborate destruction movies with a popular lead and the industry’s newest entry into the catalogue I aptly titled ‘solo merc with battle scars, a sketchy past that involves kid or wife, may or may not have done a few tours in a middle eastern country, with a death wish.’
Tyler Rake is brought into the middle of a gang war to save the kidnapped son of a crime lord from a rival gangster who controls the entire city. Tyler (Chris Hemsworth) grows soft when the mission goes sideways and he sticks around for a while to leave a pile of dead bodies as breadcrumbs to his own end.
But the real plot that matters is the one behind the scenes. Extraction is produced by the Russos (directors of Winter Soldier, Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.) Joe Russo even wrote the script. But it is directed by a Stunt Coordinator who worked with them on some of those movies and we all know what happens when stunt coordinators get behind the camera. See: aforementioned John Wick, Deadpool 2, Hobbs and Shaw, Atomic Blonde.
Now that story leads right into the film’s main event: a highly publicized 12-minute one-shot scene that has broken a record?? Who’s counting, please? And can we talk about the potential abuse of one-shots please? This was brilliant but I shouldn’t be sitting here trying to keep up with the cameraman for 12 minutes with my mind off the action. And don’t get me started on how dizzying it can become when you put a handheld camera in a highspeeding car. We get it. You are geniuses. I would watch a 60-minute documentary on how it was made but it doesn’t do the film any good if everything else falls apart when the action stops.
Frighteningly low on tunes to keep us moving, an ache forms in your head as you begin to see things you’ve seen before and it becomes a game of ticks and checks. Even 6 Underground that was about a fictional country had a more nuanced script. The heap of monotonic action films dumped on us has reduced us, viewers, to “I’ve seen that before” “Oh, that’s new. Cute.” “How long does it take a grenade to explode?” “Why did that take like 3 seconds?”
As armed men search through buildings, entering people’s homes and interrupting family gatherings (there is always an old guy in the corner who doesn’t care that someone with an automatic rifle just kicked his door open and is walking around his home and towards the room where his kids are watching TV quietly), it gradually dawns on you that this is the type of film that exists for the sake of existing and you just have to wait for the few scenes that will surprise you. And Extraction’s only batch of surprises comes from characters you’ve forgotten were in the film who show up to punctuate the boggy, brutal and sometimes, exaggerated script.
One time, in the middle of the one-shot sequence, Tyler pushes Ovi down a building to land on another. He follows suit, and so did the cameraman — you could hear the third person’s thud as he hit the floor and still take control of the shot. That’s one of the highpoints in the film. But the film only succeeds in extracting viewers out of scenes that doesn’t involve killings, explosions and rocket launchers. And that ought to count for something, somewhere.
It’s 4/10 folks.