Sam Hargrave’s Extraction is a serviceable action picture that features occasional bright spots, including an extended one-take action sequence that is impressive on a technical level, as well as a reliable performance from Chris Hemsworth, but the film’s simplistic plot and predictable second half prevents it from overcoming its genre stereotypes.
Stunt director turned full-fledged action director Sam Hargrave bursts onto the scene with Extraction, an R-rated Netflix Original featuring Marvel star Chris Hemsworth and co-written by Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame co-director Joe Russo. Extraction very much feels like a flexing of the muscles for all of these Marvel employees after coming off of the success of Endgame, recalibrating their skills by focusing in on an action film that may look and feel familiar, but comes with a few hidden surprises.
Tyler (Chris Hemsworth) is a successful black market mercenary tasked with the job of rescuing the kidnapped son of a powerful crime lord. The only problem is now this places him in between an all-out war between two factions, which means that literally everyone wants Tyler and the kid dead.
This takes him down a familiar, yet still interesting path as he battles with his own morality to get the job done and ensure the safety of the kid.
Extraction is definitely a film that you’ve already seen done before, with some going as far as comparing it to the awesome Denzel Washington/Tony Scott picture Man on Fire. While I wouldn’t go that far, I would say that Extraction borrows a whole lot from other more established action films and that’s mostly fine, because it seems to work better when expectations are low and all seems to be already unraveled.
What makes Extraction stick out from those are films is a rather simple combination of acting, action sequences and the trusty R-rating.
Chris Hemsworth gives a firm performance as the film’s anchor, ditching his laughable and fun Thor schtick for a character that’s much more seasoned and razor-focused. Tyler is a no nonsense type man and he absolutely gets the job done no matter the task. It’s always enjoyable watching successful mainstream actors bounce back-and-forth between pictures with ease, because it again shows us their range and ability to work outside of their comfort zone. I haven’t seen Hemsworth play such a straight-laced action star in a while, which makes Extraction almost feel like a fresh approach for him, despite Hemsworth mostly playing it safe as the tough-as-nails mercenary just trying to complete the mission.
As I mentioned earlier, the action in this film ranges from good to damn impressive. There’s a specific ten minute one-take sequence that really sucks you into the moment, with the camera moving around the car and down the hallways in a fluid manner that really makes the film’s technical abilities stick out. This is likely due to director Sam Hargrave and his experience as a stunt director. His comfort shows as he’s able to move the camera with such skill and expertise. The film might lean on the safe and predictable side when it comes to the plot, but the actual motion is fluid and smooth, creating some unique action set pieces.
Lastly, the R-rating feels like a much-needed step in the right direction for the Marvel crew known for their kid-friendly PG-13 films. The Russo Brothers recently partnered with Chadwick Boseman last year on the R-rated cop drama 21 Bridges and now they’re working with Hemsworth and Hargrave on this and it just feels right seeing these guys collaborating with each other, but with a different target audience in mind. I am glad to see them step outside their usual to make something for those wanting a little more edge and adult content. There’s lots of gunfire and blood in this one and it totally works — making the film feel authentic and gritty.
In the end, Extraction still feels like a Netflix Original. What I mean by that is that it works very well for those looking to throw something on in the background in a way that doesn’t require much attention to follow the plot. I still enjoyed the hell out of it and wish I could’ve seen in it at a theater, but there are moments that it feels like the script could’ve expanded on something more, but decided to play it safe to appeal to a wider demographic.
Netflix is both home to the “standard action” films that get grouped together thanks to their fancy algorithms and also home to some wild experimental films that just couldn’t get made anywhere else. Extraction feels more like the first group, which could easily be forgotten altogether or mistaken for another similar-looking action picture, despite its technical merit and ability to occasionally transcend the genre altogether.
A deeper dive into the script or a better fleshing out of the characters around Hemsworth could have made this good action movie into a great one, but for now we must settle with the fact that it’s good and worthy of your time, but unlikely to stick around in your memory past the 5 seconds Netflix gives you to skip the credits before it starts advertising the next film on its platform to watch.