Big-budget action movies directed by former stunt coordinators have been all the rage in the film world lately. With the amazing success of films such as the John Wick series and Atomic Blonde — both directed by stuntmen — more people are attempting to hand over large action premises to people who have tons of experience with crazy chase scenes and raw hand-to-hand combat. Netflix’s attempt at this type of film is Extraction, a Call of Duty-like action movie starring Chris Hemsworth. While the stunt work is undoubtedly the best part of this film and is what director Sam Hargrave wanted to show off, almost everything else is so bland that it never quite gets off the ground. This movie is watchable, but the stunts aren’t memorable or unique enough to make Extraction more than a straight-to-VOD quality action film with Hemsworth tacked onto the top.
The plot is one that everyone who has watched any action movie or has played any first-person shooter video game will be familiar with. Hemsworth plays a mercenary named Tyler Rake who is asked to travel to Bangladesh and extract the kid of a wealthy drug lord who has been kidnapped by the competing wealthy drug lord. At first, even though it looks difficult, it seems like an easy in-and-out mission, but once he is double-crossed by the people who were supposed to pay him, Rake is forced to find his own way out while saving this young boy’s life. The plot is definitely the movie’s weakest trait; half of the time there are pointless conflicts between characters who should be on the same side, and during the other half the events are so predictable that you might as well just skip to the action. Because of the weak writing, which is especially disappointing given it is penned by Joe Russo, director/writer of Avengers: Endgame and Infinity War, the film never invests the audience in the action enough.
However, this doesn’t stop the action from being great on its own. The stunt work from all involved — especially Hemsworth and Randeep Hooda, the actor who plays the young boy’s caretaker — is fantastic, and is the clear focus of this movie. I almost wish they pushed the limits of what they could do even further than what is seen in this movie. The actors and stunt team seem more than capable of pulling off some insane and crazy scenes that make this movie one to remember, but instead all of the impressive action scenes are wasted on generic car chases and typical scenes of Hemsworth mowing down people with a gun. Films like John Wick: Chapter 3 have plenty of awesome scenes I could name right now (the scene with the dogs, the scene with the samurai on motorcycles, the shotgun sequence near the end), but Extraction never really rises to a level that makes any one scene memorable. They try to get to that high standard with a twelve minute “one take” chase sequence early in the film, but the fake cuts are so obvious and the plot is so weak that it never grabbed my attention.
While I’m on the subject of the plot early in the movie, it’s worth mentioning that the action for the first half is based around a conflict that never even needed to happen. Hemsworth and another character spend a good chunk of the runtime killing police officers and soldiers to get to each other, and it turns out it is all a misunderstanding because they have the same objective. This is not only predictable, but it renders about 30-40 minutes of the movie, including the twelve minute one-take scene, pointless. If these characters had simply had a 30 second conversation, then the audience could have cut to the final action sequence and skipped the entire movie. This includes a time-wasting and predictable subplot involving David Harbour (Hopper from Stranger Things), where his character leaves as suddenly as he enters.
Once the final act finally comes, the investment rises a little because there is a clear objective and suspense as to whether they will succeed. The ending is a little predictable, but it gets the job done. However, the very last shot got under my skin. It’s not that the writers decided to tease the possibility of a sequel; I wouldn’t mind a sequel for this film for the director and Hemsworth are talented enough to maybe make it better than this one. What ticked me off was how they did it. Without spoiling anything, the subtle indication of a sequel at the end made no logical sense given the situation the film set up, and it irks me that despite this, the filmmakers will still do everything they can to make more money off of this property. Before this shot I was thinking in my head, Oh please don’t do what I think you’re about to do, and when the film ended with exactly what I was dreading, my respect for the film considerably dropped.
Extraction just never really hit for me. If you think a movie with the plot of an average Call of Duty mission is enough, then this will be more than fine. But I wanted a film with a far better plot than a white man killing hundreds of Bangladeshi police officers and being hailed as a hero. The stunt work and general filmmaking is good enough for most people wandering around Netflix and looking for something to watch, but I never found what I look for in an action movie with this effort. The action scenes should be put up on YouTube so viewers can get the point of the movie without having to watch the whole two hours. Director Sam Hargrave is very talented and so is Hemsworth, but I would much rather see them work on a movie that has a more interesting concept, a better screenplay and more inventive action scenes.
I give Extraction a C-.