There’s an almost 12 minute cleverly crafted single-take in Extraction, the latest Chris Hemsworth destruction derby vehicle on Netflix, that demonstrates even without when not in god mode, he can still dismantle a faceless goon like the best of them. Popping more caps than a Coca-Cola factory at Christmas, no one in a flak jacket and helmet is safe against this arse-kicking Australian as he mows down all that oppose him, be it with a gun, his fists, or even before this big set-piece, yes, an actual rake. Technically, it’s an impressive feat and a credit to Avengers: Endgame stunt coordinator and second-unit director Sam Hargrave for his first time at the helm of his own film. The issue that quickly presents itself though, is how the relentless bombast numbs the story limping along inside it.
Hemsworth plays lone, gruff gun-for-hire, Tyler Rake who takes on the job of tracking down and transporting the son of an Indian drug lord through the streets of Dhaka in Bangladesh. Naturally the job goes sideways, Rake’s team are snuffed out, and it’s up to our lad to get the boy to safety as Daddy drug lord’s competition locks the city down and sends an army after him. Bad times for them, then?
Man oh, Man On Fire does this film feel familiar, and to be fair, there are a number of frustrating cliches that Extraction pulls from other ‘guardian’ gigs to help it on its way. Henchworth plays the silent hero, simply because he doesn’t have a lot to say beyond growling at his enemies. He drinks when he can, dices with death to drown out memories of past mistakes and only opens up on the rarest of occasions in between killing folk and sealing up wounds, which feels like the biggest problem. Snarling through stifled tears to doe-eyed Rudhraksh Jaiswal’s Ovi, and the clear effort to show that this killing machine is human after all fails to add more layers. It’s a missed opportunity to allow the film’s leading man to bring the charisma we all know he has available, leaving Rake to be a cliche running around in a Call of Duty map, albeit it one expertly planned out.
As a directorial debut from Hargrave, it’s a dynamite display of the stunt background he’s come from that is pushed to the forefront in every available frame.
As a directorial debut from Hargrave, it’s a dynamite display of the stunt background he’s come from that is pushed to the forefront in every available frame. The aforementioned oner sequence is a standout feast for the eyes showing just what he can muster when given a squad of police cars and conveyor belt full of henchmen to dispose of in artistic and intensely painful fashion. Fight scenes are squeamish, gunfights don’t miss a mark and even a scrap between Rake and a child gang, while a questionable creative choice, looks like some of the youths may be scared straight. That being said, even with all the whizz bang and rake-fu on show, the story and its characters don’t get anywhere near the same treatment.
Besides Hemsworth’s basic hero, support from the rest of Extraction‘s cast is rather limited, as well. Jaiswal as the innocent soul along for the ride chipping away at his protector struggles to conjure chemistry with his co-star, simply because he doesn’t have enough time to do so. One welcome surprise however, is in the form of Randeep Hooda as Saju, right hand man to Ovi’s Dad who crosses paths with Rake for his own personal reasons. He’s the welcome presence adding some desperately needed humanity to a film that, however crammed full of action it may be, only contains a few extracts of character.