The description for Extraction’s lead character Tyler Rake is “a fearless black-market mercenary.” Now I’ve personally never shopped for a mercenary, but my assumption is that every one of them is ‘black market,’ and none would likely self-identify as anything other than ‘fearless.’ My Facebook account is inundated with unwanted advertisements, and I’ve yet to see one for any mercenary, much less one that lacks courage. Now you will likely find this to be worthless meanderings, but that’s where the first feature-length film from director Sam Hargrave took me. Mr. Hargrave is a veteran stunt coordinator and stunt performer (he’s been the stunt double for Chris Evans’ Captain America), and he’s working from a script by Joe Russo (Marvel’s Avengers fame).
Chris Hemsworth (Thor) stars as the aforementioned Tyler Rake. It’s a role that would have just as easily worked for Jason Statham or, in past years, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, or Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rake is a live-action hero, haunted by visions and dreams of better times. His fighting prowess, shooting skills, and willingness to play roulette with his own life make him the perfect hire for an imprisoned Mumbai gangster when his son is kidnapped by a Bangladeshi rival. And that’s exactly what happens.
The film opens with Tyler in a bad spot. He’s injured and trying to shoot his way out of a mess where he’s badly outnumbered. The film then flashes back a couple of days where we witness the kidnapping of Ovi Jr (Rudrhaksh Jaiswal) by Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli), the drug lord rival to Ovi Jr’s imprisoned father. We also see Tyler, after a few too many drinks, take a running leap off a 30-meter cliff into an Australian lake. Soon he’s visited by Nik (Golshifteh Farahani, Adam Driver’s wife in Paterson). She acts as his handler for the dangerous jobs, and few are more risky than extracting Ovi Jr.
What follows are fast-paced car chases through the dusty streets of Dhaka, bone-crunching hand-to-hand combats, and more shootouts than we’ve seen in a while. Tyler’s job is to extract Ovi Jr and deliver him safely home. When things go sideways, the two end up on the run from an entire army, and take cover in a local sewer…with all the sights and smells you might imagine. Supporting roles are covered by David Harbor as Tyler’s old friend, and Randeep Hooda as Ovi Sr’s right-hand man. As you might expect, there are double-crosses and plenty of opportunities for Tyler to show off his ‘fearless’ mercenary skills. Ovi Jr is a bit of a nerd, but does offer up some life philosophy for his troubled protector: “You drown not by falling in the water, but by staying submerged in it.”
The kill count here is extraordinarily high and literally thousands of rounds get fired. What’s most surprising, however, is that Tyler’s cell phone somehow survives his many falls, gunshots, sewage, and car collisions. It’s much more impressive than the old Timex commercials. Gifted cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel (X-Men movies, Drive, Three Kings, The Usual Suspects) does an admirable job capturing the action sequences; it’s just that this is too similar to many movies we’ve seen before, though it serves as a chance for Hemsworth to be something other than Thor. For those in need of an action flick fix after all this social distancing, Extraction should scratch the itch.
Extraction is available on Netflix.