Extraction (2020)

“More like a thing than a person.”

Perhaps unintentionally, Extraction succeeds as the epitome and the progeny of a first person video game brought to life, even more so than most literal adaptations from console to screen have felt in the past. There’s a story line but it doesn’t really register or make much sense for that matter. The characters are thinly written and don’t have tons of depth. Most of the dialogue driven sequences feel as if they’ve been hastily layered throughout for a brief respite from all of the action. So yeah, pretty much a video game without the controller. Extraction isn’t all that memorable or even logical, but it’s pretty damn visceral too.

I came away only knowing a few things about the bulky Tyler (Chris Hemsworth). He’s a mercenary for hire, a father who lost his only son, and he numbs his heartache as well as his creaky joints with drinks and pills. It’s evident that his rap sheet is lengthy but we’re only privy to a tiny portion of the scroll, and that killing – and doing so as efficiently as possible – is muscle memory for the chiseled brute. He’s too reckless and puts his life on the line because he doesn’t have anything or anyone to live for. That hard heart of his is softened a bit by Ovi Mahajan (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of a drug lord who desperately just wants to be the kid he is, and who’s the target of Tyler’s latest job with the hope of returning him home saafely.

For all of the razzle dazzle on display during the adrenalized action sequences, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around Extraction’s obscure plot. I don’t know why Tyler is on his own when it seems his team can help at any turn. I’m not sure why Saju (Randeep Hooda), Ovi’s father’s henchman, is made out to be Tyler’s nemesis when they eventually team up with no qualms. Who is Tyler’s old friend Gaspar (David Harbour), and why does the needless character tack on an unnecessary 10 minutes to the film? These constant questions from Joe Russo’s unrefined script muddle much of the stilted drama, but this is an action movie first and foremost, and director Sam Hargrave (who’s been a stunt coordinator and second unit director on some of the decade’s biggest blockbusters) has made a film inspired by the boundless limits and endless lives of today’s gaming culture. It’s kinetic, with the camera carefully acting as a subterfuge to trick us into thinking we’re there in the crossfire, and it’s safe to say that Extraction’s excessively violent kill-death ratio is of legendary status.

Hemsworth is quite good here (honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him give a bad performance), and he’s clearly either been tailor made or sculpted by the gods for a role involving this much physicality. There’s a reason he is Thor, and he’s talented enough make you believe he’s Tyler the mercenary to boot. The main issue is that much of the drama, fashioned similarly to Tony Scott’s 2004 revenge picture Man on Fire, doesn’t build a solid enough foundation before the wrecking balls start swinging and tearing everything back down to earth. Hargrave’s feature length debut lands somewhere in between the two hours of martial arts mastery in The Raid: Redemption and the more thoughtful, precise plotting of that film’s sequel The Raid 2. Both of those Indonesian exports are objectively better movies than this trigger happy streamer, but Extraction has enough style and technique (besides a few garish CGI shots and that head-scratching, lazily ambiguous ending) to leapfrog its way to the front of your Netflix queue. Much like Tyler, it gets the job done.

“Do whatever you have to do.”

Rating: 3 out of 5

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