Sunday, May 3, 2020

Extraction (2020)

Director: Sam Hargrave
Notable Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Farahani, David Harbour, Priyanshu Painyuli, Sam Hargrave

It’s become quite apparent over the last few years that we are, in fact, living in a post-John Wick world. At least when it comes to action cinema. This is something that I have discussed briefly in a few other reviews, but with Extraction, it truly comes out like a shotgun blast. Now, technically speaking, director Sam Hargrave has worked with the 87Eleven team before in some regard so the John Wick connection can be somewhat apparent, but Hargrave has been working as a stuntman and coordinator for years. If that’s not known beforehand, all you have to do is watch Extraction once to know that it’s directed by a stuntman. Not only are the stunts, coordination, and choreography exceedingly fantastic, but the film uses action as a truly dynamic storytelling tool. The combination proves to be a structurally sound foundation for the rest of the film.

Extraction is the kind of generic title that wouldn’t attract much attention on its own. Does anyone else remember another action film named Extraction starring Kellan Lutz, Gina Carano, and Bruce Willis? I do. Click HERE for my review. Regardless, my point is that the title is somewhat representative of the plot. It’s simple and not wholly original. In this version of the film, Tyler Rake, played by a wildly enigmatic Chris Hemsworth is a suicidal mercenary hired along with his team to rescue the son of a drug lord from a rival drug lord. Shit goes sideways, as expected, and it’s a shootout for Rake to save the kid and get out of Bangladesh.

Don’t let that simplistic synopsis fool you though, Extraction uses its simplicity of story to deliver exactly what an audience needs with just enough of an artistic element to give it a narrative depth. You know, like what John Wick did. It’s a throwback film, done with style and pizzazz, with enough world-building and solid character work to get an audience invested. Say what you will, it’s an effective way to make a film. What works for Extraction though is that it throws its audience into this world of mercenaries and drug lords relatively quickly. It only spends just enough time to develop its two main characters – Tyler and the druglord’s son Ovi, and then thrusts them into the plot. Hemsworth and Jaiswal deliver heartfelt and nuanced performances here, allowing their forced connection to power the film. Do some of the backstories seem cliché? Certainly, but strong execution and a more visually focused way of telling those character beats give Extraction just enough artistry and mystique to keep its audience invested. Add in a rival spec-ops agent and a fascinating handler, played by Randeep Hooda and Golshifteh Farahani respectively, and there is a solid sense of world-building to this universe of black-market mercenaries that’s easy to love.

However, no matter how intriguing the narrative structure is for a film, the action in Extraction is going to be the reason that the film is remembered. Sam Hargrave knows how to craft an iconic action set-piece and every single one of them is one that other films would strive to have once. It’s very much in the vein of the John Wick mold here, combining close combat work with militaristic style gunplay, but without the focus on martial arts in a more traditional sense. Hemsworth and Hooda ably handle each one with intensity and grace that punctuates the key moments.  The crown of the film is a lengthy 10+ minute “no cut” action set piece with Hemsworth running from both the cops and the rival spec ops agent. Action fans are going to be swooning with what is here, even if the film uses quite a bit of shaky-cam in the process.

If anything, Extraction is something of a pleasant surprise. Militaristic action flicks are not normally my jam, but when it’s combined with incredible stunt work and a narratively intriguing story then count me in for ten more. Hemsworth has been looking for a decent smaller franchise to dig into and Extraction presents the perfect one if Netflix is willing to figure out how to maximize his character. There’s enough world-building and style to carry this film and a strong outing by the entire cast adds a lot of depth to the material. Not only is this a great new action franchise for fans, but it’s also a fantastic way to be introduced to director Sam Hargrave. Here’s hoping that all of the talent involved come back for more missions.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

No comments:

Post a Comment