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On Netflix: EXTRACTION (2020)

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EXTRACTION
(US - 2020)

Directed by Sam Hargrave. Written by Joe Russo. Cast: Chris Hemsworth, David Harbour, Rudraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Farahani, Pankaj Tripathi, Priyanshu Painyuli, Suraj Rikame, Shataf Figar, Sam Hargrave, Rayna Campbell, Sudipto Ballav, Adam Bessa, Neha Mahajan, (R, 116 mins)

A Netflix production combined with the unforeseen COVID-19 novel coronavirus covers all bases in sparing Chris Hemsworth the indignity of having another non-Marvel movie bomb in theaters, but the non-stop action extravaganza EXTRACTION kicks all sorts of ass. Of course, it's got Marvel connections beyond Hemsworth, with screenwriter Joe Russo (co-director of two CAPTAIN AMERICAs and two AVENGERS movies) adapting Ande Parks' graphic novel Ciudad, and directing duties handled by veteran stunt coordinator and Chris Evans' Captain America stunt double Sam Hargrave. EXTRACTION is an impressive directing debut for Hargrave, who keeps things at a frenetic pace with an opening hour filled with one gonzo action set piece after another, including one long, 12-minute chase sequence where the edit cheats are obvious, but it's so expertly-assembled and tightly-edited that it doesn't diminish the effect at all. Hemsworth hasn't had much box-office success outside the Marvel extended universe, but EXTRACTION is his best star vehicle since Michael Mann's BLACKHAT, which of course tanked in theaters but has found a cult following since, and although it was intended for streaming before the coronavirus shuttered movie theaters indefinitely, EXTRACTION probably would've been quite an experience on a big screen. Hargrave approaches the film with a stuntman's eye for action, and in many ways, this looks and feels like a mash-up of THE RAID 2 with a big-budget version of the kind of B-movie actiongasms that guys like Scott Adkins and Isaac Florentine have been making for years.






In Mumbai, teenage Ovi Mahajan (Rudraksh Jaiswal) is kidnapped by operatives working for Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli), an insanely wealthy Bangladeshi drug lord seeking revenge on incarcerated Indian rival Ovi Sr. (Pankaj Tripathi). A jailhouse visit with Ovi Sr spells it out for his security chief Saju (Randeep Hooda), who was put in charge of protecting Ovi Jr: "You want your son to see his next birthday? Then get mine back." Enter Australian black-ops mercenary Tyler Rake (Hemsworth), recruited by his handler Nik (Golshifteh Farahani) to lead an extraction team to Dhaka, obtain proof of life, and bring Ovi home. Rescuing Ovi goes off relatively easy--and involves Rake wiping out a dozen guys, even killing two of them with, you guessed it, a rake--but then their payment doesn't transfer and the extraction team starts getting picked off one by one by an assailant quickly revealed to be Saju. He's been ordered by Ovi Sr to wipe out the extraction team after they do all the heavy lifting with rescuing Ovi as a way to avoid paying them. But money or not, Rake is the kind of guy who finishes a mission--and he has to somehow get Ovi back to Mumbai after Asif, who has both the police and the military on his payroll, shuts down the city. And for his own personal reasons later conveyed in a tragic backstory, Rake vows to protect the sensitive boy, who plays the piano and just wants to hang out with his friends and feels sick to his stomach knowing that his father is in a business where he regularly has to kill people.


The characters are pretty paper-thin--of course Painyuli's Asif is a cartoonish villain, David Harbour as Rake's ex-mercenary buddy may have ulterior motives, and Rake has a reason for taking all of this personally and self-medicating with booze and oxy and meditating underwater to dull a pain-to-be-named-later that's hinted at in quick, blurry cutaways with Nik gravely intoning "You're hoping if you spin the chamber enough times, you'll catch a bullet"--but that's not what EXTRACTION is about. Sure, Hemsworth and young Jaiswal develop a good MAN ON FIRE chemistry as the movie goes on, and regardless of how you interpret that ambiguous final shot, it's unexpectedly affecting either way. But if you're looking for bone-crushing, limb-snapping, throat-slashing, face-pummeling, skull-blasting action, then this will definitely cure the moviegoing blues if you've missed explosive, big-screen excitement these last six weeks. EXTRACTION is formulaic at a top level, and is good enough at what it is that it instantly establishes Hargrave as a promising action director to keep an eye on.


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