Sometimes, all you need is a simple flick to kill a few hours with – characters and plotting be damned, as long as the film delivers on the action and succeeds in being entertaining. This is what you can expect from Extraction.
The plot is simple enough: one drug lord’s son is kidnapped by another drug lord, resulting in a rescue mission led by Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth). The action in Extraction is absolutely sublime thanks to direction by stuntman Sam Hargrave. Hargrave’s understanding of the craft of action filmmaking is readily apparent in the fight choreography, staging of set pieces, and – perhaps most impressively – the camerawork. Every hit evokes a visceral reaction in the viewer, coming across as completely authentic and impactful. As a result, the characters never feel totally invulnerable. There is also a wide variety of action sequences, preventing them from getting repetitive or stale.
However, the camerawork is what ties the whole film together. Unlike the previous big-budget Netflix original action film I reviewed, 6 Underground, the incredible stunt work on display remains intact, and does not fall victim to sloppy editing. Shots linger, allowing the viewer to fully appreciate the threat level, as well as comprehend the events that have happened in each frantic scene. This results in an immersive thrill ride that is best exemplified in the 12-minute faux-continuous single shot that is mind-boggling in its execution, and is the film’s highlight.
The high concentration of action ensures that there’s rarely a dull moment. This is particularly important due to the film’s lackluster plot. While serviceable enough for it to be engaging, it falls short of being nearly engrossing enough for it to be memorable after the credits roll. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why that is – both The Raid and Mad Max: Fury Road have very simple plots and fantastic action, yet they manage to be much more investing.
One of the film’s biggest failings is that its characterisation is very poor. Despite Hemsworth delivering a solid performance, the protagonist’s backstory feels completely detached and inconsequential to the plot, and so attempts at emotionally impactful scenes detailing his past ultimately feel out of place, cheap and clichéd. Similarly, the friendship that supposedly forms between the kidnapped Ovi (portrayed relatively well by Rudhraksh Jaiswal) and Rake is not convincing, and so it too lacks the necessary emotional payoff. In fact, as far as characterisation goes, the best is arguably that of the villain (played by Priyanshu Painyuli), whose brutal and disturbing actions establish him as a force to be reckoned with.
Continuing the trend of stunt-person directed action films set by the John Wick franchise, Extraction is a very simple film that delivers on an exhilarating action experience. Admittedly, I found the script somewhat disappointing. Yet I cannot deny the pure action bliss that the film delivers and so, on that front, it’s an enjoyable watch.
Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr