Review by C.J. Bunce
Thor’s gotta Thor. In the first scene of the new Netflix action drama Extraction, we catch up with Chris Hemsworth in Australia jumping off a Brazil-esque cliff with the same nonchalance he applied to cut the head off of Thanos. Here Hemsworth plays Tyler Rake, an ex-soldier turned mercenary with nothing left to live for, taking on his next assignment–a suicide mission for anybody else that he accepts with that bravado the actor regularly taps into whether he’s saving a Starfleet ship in Star Trek (2009) or the Earth from aliens in Men in Black International. This is another role perfectly suited to Hemsworth’s charm and humor, although the humor part is dialed back this round.
This is a role you might have seen played years ago by a young Liam Neeson, and we’ve seen Jeremy Renner and Mark Wahlberg in this space several times before. But somehow Hemsworth just does it better. Full of action and hand-to-hand battles that showcase his (and his stuntmen’s) skills much like Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, like Atomic Blonde, Extraction is based on a graphic novel. Our friend Ande Parks wrote the story in graphic novel form as Ciudad, with the film producers of the film, Avengers: Endgame’s Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, and screenplay by Joe Russo. The tempo and beats have a bit of a Taken vibe, mixed with some good save-the-kid moments from The Transporter series, and the dramatic edge of The Foreigner.
The original graphic novel was billed as “hyper-violent,” and some of that plays through in the film, despite numerous changes and updates, including the setting and sex of the kid who has been kidnapped, a child of a druglord who Hemsworth’s character seeks to extract from the clutches of the show’s bad guys, which gets further complicated by a double cross. And that’s really the starting point. One kid is thrown off a building, another is involved in a mob-esque ritual of cutting off his own fingers. Otherwise this is the same kind of head-shots, blood spurting, and language of any other recent action flick. It’s all well-done, directed by stunt coordinator-turned-director Sam Hargrave (in his first major directing project), with cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel (The Usual Suspects, Bohemian Rhapsody, X-Men: Days of Future Past).
This isn’t the wall-to-wall action or rollercoaster ride of 6 Underground, and you’d never swap roles here between Hemsworth and Ryan Reynolds. Think more of a less political Munich with the lone wolf of Netflix’s adaptation of Marvel’s The Punisher, complete with a post-war soldier unable to fit back into society.
Three supporting roles amp up the gravitas, including Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’ Golshifteh Farahani (a ringer for Counterpart’s Nazanin Boniadi) as a member of the mercenary squad, Randeep Hooda as the Bangladesh mob boss’s “is he or isn’t he a good guy?” henchman whose face gets pounded to be almost unrecognizable by film’s end, and Rudhraksh Jaiswal as the kidnapped boy. And all for fun, look for David Harbour as a Joe Don Baker-inspired Felix Leiter character.
A must for Hemsworth fans and fans of soldier dramas, Extraction has plenty of action, and is streaming now exclusively on Netflix.