Extraction (2020) ☆☆☆(3/4): A tense and brutal action flick as good as intended

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When I saw the trailer of Netflix film “Extraction” a few weeks ago, I immediately had a pretty good idea on what and how it would be in terms of story and characters, and it turns out that my guess was pretty correct. Yes, what we get here is another action flick about your average lone white tough guy determined to accomplish his latest mission by any means necessary, but the movie is fairly entertaining for a number of good elements to be savored, so you may come to forgive its weak aspects to some degree just like I did when I watched it early in this morning.

Chris Hemsworth, who also participated in the production of the film along with Anthony and Joe Russo, plays Tyler Rake, a former Australian Special Air Service Regiment solider who has worked as a mercenary to hire during recent years. When he is introduced to us around the beginning of the film, it is pretty evident that Tyler has some serious emotional issue to deal with, and we can easily guess the reason right from a brief flashback showing a bit of his sunnier days in the past.

When his partner Nik Khan (Golshifteh Farahani) later comes to his shabby house located somewhere in a rural area of Australia, Tyler is not exactly in his best condition, but he does not hesitate at all when Nik asks him to participate in one urgent mission to be accomplished as soon as possible. Several hours ago, the adolescent son of a powerful drug lord in Mumbai, India was kidnapped by the boss of a rival drug organization in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Tyler and his fellow mercenaries including Nik must rescue and then extract that teenager boy from Dhaka before it is too late.

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When Tyler arrives in Dhaka and then embarks on the mission along with his colleagues, everything seems to be going well for them at first. They quickly come to find where the boy is being held by a bunch of nasty criminals working for that rival of the boy’s father, and we are soon served with a brutal physical action scene where Tyler surely shows those criminals that he is definitely not someone they can mess with.

Of course, things soon get quite more complicated after Tyler succeeds in rescuing the boy. Once notified of what has just happened, Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli), the aforementioned rival of the boy’s father, naturally becomes quite enraged, and he instantly orders not only his men but also many local policemen and soldiers on his payroll to track down Tyler and the boy at any cost. As a result, the city, which is incidentally surrounded by the river, soon gets blocked from its surrounding, and Tyler must be far more careful than before for himself as well as the boy – especially after the extraction plan goes wrong due to the unexpected interference from Saju Rav (Randeep Hooda), who is the right-hand guy of the boy’s father and turns out to have a desperate reason behind his actions against Tyler.

Occasionally stopping for quieter moments for building up its story and characters more, the movie steadily provides very intense moments of actions and movements, and director Sam Hargrave, who previously worked as the stunt coordinator of “Avengers: Endgame” (2019), and his technical crew members skillfully handle these moments as generating enough thrill and excitement to hold our attention. In case of a breathtaking single-take sequence, it fluidly glides from one gritty action to another while busily switching from one perspective to another, and I heard that Hargrave willingly put himself into risky positions for shooting this impressive moment.

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I must point out that Joe Russo’s screenplay, which is based on the graphic novel “Ciudad” by Ande Parks, Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, and Fernando León González, is often hampered by its rather thin narrative and superficial characterization. For example, Tyler is not so different from countless stoic but troubled Caucasian action heroes we have seen before, and the main villains and numerous bad guys in the film are more or less than broad caricatures who surely look deserved to get shot or beaten by Tyler, though the screenplay tries to compensate this flaw via the growing emotional bond between Tyler and the boy, who, not so surprisingly, turns out to be more than a helpless figure to be rescued and extracted.

In case of the main cast members, they look convincing as demanded. While Hemsworth dutifully carries the movie with enough presence and gravitas, Rudhraksh Jaiswal holds his own place well besides Hemsworth, and he and Hemsworth somehow overcome several clichéd moments between their characters including the very last shot of the film. Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Farahani, and Priyanshu Painyuli are also well-cast in their respective functional roles, and David Harbour, who recently drew more attention from us via his Emmy-nominated supporting turn in Netflix drama series “Stranger Things”, provides a bit of respite and humor as Tyler’s former colleague who happens to be residing in Dhaka.

In conclusion, “Extraction” does not feel particularly fresh on the whole, but it works better than I expected, and it is surely worthwhile to watch for its commendable action scenes. It simply follows the footsteps of its many senior action flicks out there, but it accomplishes its familiar mission with considerable skill and confidence at least, so I will not grumble for now.

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