Extraction: Hargrave’s Formulaic Actioner, Starring Chris (Thor) Hemsworth with Rifle rather than Hammer–Netflix

'Extraction': Film Review

Netlix Actioner, April 25, 2020.

More than a decade ago, Sam Hargrave made his debut in the world of superheroes with “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” as the double for Sabretooth.  Then he began working on other big films in the genre, from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” to “Avengers: Endgame.”

Now the veteran stunt coordinator is making his directorial feature debut with Extraction, a formulaic actioner, lacking credible characters, engaging plot, and any nuance in the other departments.

Our Grade: C+ (** out of *****)

Over the four past decades, we have seen Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sly Stallone, and Bruce Willis making action adventures of varying degrees of artistic merit and commercial success.

If you believe the adage that every generation gets the action hero it deserves, then Aussie Chris Hemsworth, who’s 36, is the kind of cool, strong, muscled up protagonist for the millennials.

 

 

Joe Russo, better known as part of the Russo team of in the Marvel pictures, has crafted a barely workable tale, full of familiar clichés, beginning with its hero’s name, and more importantly, short in visceral thrills (the crucial ingredient of pleasure in such mass spectacles).

Hemsworth plays Tyler Rake, a black-market mercenary with nothing left to lose–or fear.  When first seen, Tyler indulges in booze, nursing some “deep” wounds of the past.  He living in a disheveled abode in Australia, surrounded by chickens who walk around his bathtub, but being cool and depressed, he doesn’t care.

Things get into motion when he is hired to rescue Ovi (Rudraksh Jaiswal), the son of an imprisoned international crime lord, who is affluent and still powerful. Ovi is been kidnapped by the heavies from Mumbai, quickly whisked off to Bangladesh.

Tyler is forced to navigate in the murky underworld of weapons dealers and drug traffickers.

The villains in this picture are really viciously cruel, they throw a boy off a roof as a “lesson,” to teach the other kids what might happen to them! 

As a director, Hargrave shows no instinctive affinity to the film medium or action genre.  There are the requisite chase and fight scenes, and several blow-ups and fires, but the director mistakes fast pacing and adrenaline-fueled set pieces with real style, which is disappointing coming from a craftsman who has choreographed some exciting stunts.

The script is penned by Endgame co-director Joe Russo, who produced along with brother Anthony. The Russos pitched Hargrave and the Thor actor Hemsworth on the project while working on Avengers: Infinity War. But Hargrave notes that the original idea was to cast someone physically small, not a man built like a Norse god.

“We wanted to turn action movies on their head a little bit,” Hargrave explains. “The physicality of someone you didn’t see coming. But as soon as Hemsworth showed interest, we looked at each other and said, ‘It’s kind of perfect.’ ”

Unlike former action heroes, Hemsworth is also a talented actor, with considerable dramatic and comedic skills, and plenty of screen charisma to spare.  By sheer size (he’s 6 foot 3), natural charm, sexy swagger, and singular physical presence (deep-set blue eyes), Hemsworth elevates almost every project he is in.  He embodies the notion of old-fashioned star power, not seen in Hollywood since Will Smith, back in the 1990s.

One of the most important roles in Hemsworth’s evolving career was playing James Hunt in Ron Howard’s 2013 biopic Rush.  He continues to play the iconic hero in the Thor franchise, which put him on the map in the first place. And let’s not forget, his willingness to engage in “smaller” and more “personal” indies,” such as Drew Goddard’s two singular features, “The Cabin in the Woods” and “Bad Times at the El Royale,” which have allowed him to stretch as an actor and to demonstrate a wider range.

The scenario has been around for several years, with the filmmaker updating it every now and then (and the patchwork nature of the tale feels this way).  Netflix could not have anticipated the pandemic when it came aboard, and t may benefit from the fact that there is not much to see right one.

Notes:

Speaking of older action heroes: Bruce Willis did make a picture titled Extraction in 2015.

Hero’s Name: Tyler Rake

There’s actual rake making brief appearance in the movie.