Movie Review | Extraction
Movie summary: Tyler Rake, a fearless black market mercenary, embarks on the most deadly extraction of his career when he's enlisted to rescue the kidnapped son of an imprisoned international crime lord. (IMDb)
I don't really know where to start when talking about Extraction, because there's so little here that trying to pad things out would simply become repetitive. Considering how successful Netflix say this movie has been for them, I think people are just starved for new movies to watch and will cling on to anything showing any signs of potential.
Key to that are the many action sequences, all of which are at least brilliantly choreographed and technically amazing to watch. The 'problem' is that there's so much action in this movie at the expense of any kind of character work, that you might grow a little numb to what you're watching and start losing interest before the movie finishes.
As a result, it's the early sequences that stand out as the most enjoyable for me, with Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) ripping through his opponents as easy as you'd expect for someone his size against opponents who all look like they're at least half a foot shorter than him and in nowhere near the same physical condition.
This kind of mismatch might not sound too satisfying, but it actually works in Extraction's favour by letting us see how one-sided these kinds of situations should be instead of manufacturing an excuse to make things more even. That is, until the movie does just that by the end of a fantastic 'one-shot' sequence that seems to go on forever and is amazing from start to finish.
You see, Rake picks up an injury to his arm and spends sizeable portions of the movie with it in a sling to let us know he's injured. Except it only seems to hurt when in a fistfight against someone he should easily outclass and the terms need to be artificially levelled. Slamming against walls, doors, the floor, or operating weaponry? Never seems to cause a problem.
Another reason why the I quickly became desensitised to the action is the violence against kids in Extraction. I say 'violence' and not 'action', because being shot at point-blank range in the head or thrown off the roof of a building aren't really action. And yes, those two things both happen to children in this movie - once you've seen that, you don't really care too much about adults trying to kill each other.
Which then leads into the movie's biggest problem: why should we care about these characters at all? Rake is a generic tough guy mercenary with a traumatic incident in his past and that is pretty much the extent of who he is. That's it, I've spoiled his character for you and there's nothing more to learn about him other than just what that incident is.
If anything, I enjoyed Golshifteh Farahani's Nik Khan more, not because her character is any better, but at least she actually seems to have some depth to her and it would've been great to spend more time with her character - especially after the finale of the movie. A kind, caring, intelligent woman who's also tough as nails, just as ready for the action as any guy and apparently also a lethal assassin? Hell yes, I want her back for any sequel.
Oh, and I will admit to being a hypocrite as far as the violence against kids goes, with Nik more than happy to take a shot at a teen working for the opposition after he attacks Rake. Earlier in the movie, Rake took non-lethal measures against a group of kids who attack him and I just like that Nik didn't care about their age, they were just a dangerous enemy and she treated them appropriately.
In addition to the action itself, I do want to praise Extraction for how good it looks, despite the yellowy 'pee filter' it has going on at times. There's no 'iconic' shots or anything like that, but this much action has often led other directors into constantly cutting between shots, shaking the camera and generally making the action hard to follow.
Instead, director Sam Hargrave makes sure everything is as easy to follow as you could hope and I never felt lost or confused even once about who was where or in which direction they were moving. Extraction relies on the brutality and constant movement in-shot to sell the chaos rather than making it difficult for the audience.
I have to say that I was ultimately disappointed by Extraction, especially because the movie started so enjoyably, but never really went anywhere after that, instead throwing up action scene after action scene and then on to the next action scene. Hemsworth is entirely convincing as Rake, I just wish we'd got to know more about him.
Extraction has some incredible action in it, but the story and characters are so paper-thin that there's nothing really to the movie. Even then, the action takes up such a huge amount of screen-time that it actually became a little boring by the time it reached the final shootout. In case a sequel does come (which looks likely), I hope they do the opposite of what Elvis sang and give us a little more conversation, a little less action please.