Extraction

★★★1/2

Parents who are frustrated homeschooling their children in quarantine, have I got a movie for you. Netflix’s “Extraction” shows not just one but two kiddos getting graphically clipped. On top of that, star Chris Hemsworth legit pimp slaps a pipsqueak and smacks the snot outta a whole squad of squirts … he even refers to them as, “The Goonies from hell.” Let Hemsworth exact vengeance for the fact that you’ve forgotten how to do sixth grade math without harming a hair on your precious little angels’ heads.

Hemsworth stars as Tyler Rake, a mercenary who’s hired by his friend and handler, Nik (Golshifteh Farahani), to retrieve Ovi, Jr. (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of jailed Bangladeshi drug lord, Ovi, Sr. (Pankaj Tripathi), when he’s kidnapped by rival pusher, Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli). There’s a catch however: Ovi, Sr.’s right-hand man, Saju (Randeep Hooda), doesn’t have the means to pay the mercs and would be in deep doo-doo if the big boss man knew he outsourced the task, so he sets his sights on jacking Jr. from Rake’s tines. Things pop off, so Rake enlists the services of his former comrade, Gaspar (David Harbour, Hopper of “Stranger Things”).

“Extraction” is based off the graphic novel “Ciudad” by Ande Parks, Fernando León González and Joe and Anthony Russo AKA the Russo Brothers (best known for their directing efforts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe including “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame,”), it’s produced by the Russo Brothers and Hemsworth, written by Joe Russo and helmed by stuntman-turned-director Sam Hargrave (he stunt coordinated the Russo’s MCU entries and doubled Chris Evans’ Captain America). Hargrave is the latest in a long line of stuntmen who left leaping off stuff and leapt into the directing game – among them Hal Needham (“Hooper”), David R. Ellis (“Final Destination 2”), Ric Roman Waugh (“Angel Has Fallen”), Chad Stahelski (the “John Wick” franchise), David Leitch (“Atomic Blonde”) and Joel Edgerton’s brother, Nash (“Gringo”). It‘s a hot trend in action filmmaking right now to unleash stuntmen behind the camera and the proof appears to be in the pudding. “Extraction” is at its best when it’s ripping shit up. Granted, character development is often waylaid in favor of kinetic chaos. Much has been made of the 12 minute oner here (faked, but nonetheless convincing and impressive), but I’d argue that while the action’s very good it never quite reaches the heights of the movies it’s aping – namely “The Raid” movies, the “John Wick” series and Timo Tjahjanto’s “Headshot” and “The Night Comes for Us.”

Hemsworth does good work as Rake. It ranks somewhere in the middle of the action flicks he’s done outside of the MCU – I prefer it to Michael Mann’s “Blackhat,” but less than “12 Strong.” (His best work outside the MCU remains Drew Goddard’s “The Cabin in the Woods” and “Bad Times at the El Royale.”) Jaiswall does a nice job with what he’s given. There’s a scene between he and Hemsworth that serves as the supposed emotional crux of the picture and essentially encapsulates their entire relationship – the kid carries the brunt of the dialogue allowing his co-star to emote with aplomb. Harbour is given a nothingburger of a role – you know this dude’s deal the second he appears on screen … that said, it’s always nice to see Hopper. The sneaky standout is Hooda, who gives as good as he gets as Hemsworth’s foil. There’s a scene where Hooda’s Saju speaks to his wife and son over the phone that tore my heart out – this is your emotional apex, movie! Hooda also absolutely rips it up on the action front.

“Extraction” is a riff on Tony Scott’s “Man on Fire,” its action is much better than that movie’s, but it’s severely lacking in heart and character development by comparison. In spite of this, there’s a lot to like here. So what if Hemsworth isn’t Denzel Washington? Who the hell is? He has enough of a presence to make me curious what he has lined up outside the MCU down the road. Hargrave also shows enough chops that I’ll most certainly check out whatever he directs next. It’s not every day we get to see a protagonist murder an adversary with a gardening tool that shares his surname. 

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