Chris Hemsworth’s latest action flick, “Extraction,” finally shows he has the chops to be a leading man outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Taking a page out of the book of the “John Wick” franchise, “Extraction” foregoes much of its story for allusions to past events and relationships in an effort to focus almost entirely on the task at hand. Hemworth’s Tyler Rake — an especially generic name — is a mercenary with a death wish who takes on the job of rescuing a drug lord’s child kidnapped by a rival drug lord in Bangladesh. The narrative itself is fairly weak, but that’s not really why you watch a movie like this, is it?
Though, that idea might be a slight disservice to the overall plot. It unfolds much like a “Lone Wolf and Cub” retelling, where Rake takes the boy under his wing in an attempt to protect him as he tries to escape a city crawling with corrupt cops, soldiers and mercenaries. There’s an interesting twist and surprising depth to the main villain and his motives.
But the real reason to watch “Extraction” is for the action — and what glorious action it is. First time director Sam Hargrave flexes his muscles behind the camera with great shot set ups, amazing framing and convincing stunts. Much like Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who started as stunt workers on various movies like “The Matrix” before transitioning to behind the camera for “John Wick,” Hargrave has worked for years as a stunt coordinator for many action films over the last 15 years, including “Avengers Endgame.” He was assisted in directing “Extraction” by the Russo Brothers, who helped produce.
The film’s action is fairly diverse, moving from hand-to-hand fights to gunfights to car chases and everything in between. Unlike some action flicks that get bogged down with a single style that goes on repeat for 90 minutes or more, “Extraction” keeps the many scenes fresh with alternating styles and setups, including a dark alley fight against about six young assaulters that ends with one getting backhanded so hard, his head goes through a car door. At the center of the flick is a showpiece nearly 30-minute one-take sequence that spans a much of the city, as it starts with an impressive car chase before moving into a close-quarters battle with police in an apartment complex before spilling into the streets in a one-on-one fight. While it’s not to the level of “1917,” the one-shot is an amazing technological marvel that you can’t pull your eyes away from.
“Extraction” does have its issues, which mainly revolve around its pacing. Once things get started about 15 minutes in, it rarely relents — keeping the gas pedal pushed to the medal for almost the entire film. That’s why when the pacing comes to a grinding halt at the end of the second act, it feels like whiplash. A popular actor is introduced out of nowhere, playing a shady character from Rake’s past who tries to take him in and help him. There’s supposed to be an underlying tension between the two men, but it feels so inane and predictable, that the whole sequence adds nothing to the story — and serves only as a boring break before the fun picks up again soon after.
Hemsworth isn’t asked to do much, but he still sells the haunted mercenary archetype well. He gets to use his natural accent, so maybe that’s why he looks and feels a little more loose and relaxed on screen. This is really one of the first movies outside the MCU that Hemsworth looks convincing as a leading man.
The main attraction of “Extraction” is its brutal, breakneck — no pun intended — action sequences that dominate the runtime. They’re well worth the $0 cost of admission on Netflix, and would look just as brilliant on the big screen, as well. It’s hard to see “Extraction” turning into a franchise, but the potential is there. Hargrave has a lot of potential to hone his skills even more and to make a name for himself as the new Stahelski and Leitch in western action. And Hemsworth looks to have finally found his niche.
Josh Rouse lives in Lawton.