Originally shared on The Film Experience
Chris Hemsworth, good actor and better action hero that he is, has had a helluva time finding material worth his salt outside of Marvel. Directed by first-time feature filmmaker Sam Hargrove and produced by the Russo brothers, Extraction is a rough-and-tumble action film set mostly in the slums of Bangladesh. His name is Tyler Rake and he’s a mercenary with a troubled past, hired to whisk and wend his way out of dangerous slums with a drug lord’s kidnapped son intact. Where have we seen this before? Never mind the plot, so silly and often pedestrian, and focus on the action, so visceral and often well-choreographed.
Hargrove is clearly a consummate technician when it comes to staging hand-to-hand combat and gunplay, as several long-take sequences and thrilling fight scenes play out with a clarity and balletic brutality not seen outside of John Wick or James Bond. As exciting as they are, some of these “uninterrupted takes” are a tad overlong, as evidenced by a few moments evoking first-person-shooter gameplay. Complete with obvious CGI and unnatural camera movement, they’re clearly the result of director and DP stretching credulity for single-shot filmmaking, where the stitches inevitably begin to show. Such hiccups are few and far between though, with an 11-minute showstopper (including a car chase through the crowded streets of one slum) so impressive it rivals many of the accomplishments of the Bourne trilogy.
While he’s a little hamstrung by a humorless script, Hemsworth is electric as the fierce military vet with the funny name (they at least have the wherewithal to make fun of it), and Hindi film star Randeep Hooda is a physical revelation from overseas as a rival mercenary attempting his own rescue mission. David Harbour pops in for a scene or two as Rake’s old friend and Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher, Friday Night Lights), listed online as part of the cast, is curiously absent. Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani provides steely resolve as Rake’s recruiter and fellow reluctant do-gooder. A climactic scene with her and a rocket launcher is hair-raising stuff, and a final moment allows her to don one of the greatest dresses ever put to screen, and for thirty seconds no less.
Hemsworth has never been more physically tested, and though Rake’s backstory proves rote and perfunctory, he sells the character’s trauma and broken soul with a quiet melancholy that recalls his performance in Endgame. Flawed though it is, Extraction signals he might be finding his groove away from Thor.