Review by C.J. Bunce
You know something isn’t quite right when the villain of a big-budget action movie is a young punk kid. Hoping the hero or the thugs push that kid off a roof is about all that will keep you sitting through Extraction 2, a poor return to what was a welcome Chris Hemsworth action vehicle at the beginning of the pandemic. The original was a thoughtful movie of a former soldier turned mercenary extracting a boy from a bad situation, and dying a hero’s death in the process. It clearly wasn’t contemplated how successful Extraction would be–nobody knew the world would need some escapism and nobody could predict the pandemic or its timing–so the first act of the sequel is wasted bringing the hero back from the dead. Unfortunately for fans of the first movie, the ultra-violence is mind-numbing and the complete absence of real-world drama leaves Extraction 2 severely lacking by comparison.
Don’t be misled by the cast list. The best actor listed is Idris Elba, who is relegated to cameo status, and fans of Olga Kurylenko will also be disappointed as she, too, only has a brief appearance. Which leaves Hemsworth to carry the film. The script’s complete absence of the Hemsworth charm leaves doubt that the Marvel star can support more than one appearance in this kind of role–the kind of shoot ’em up that made Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, and even Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris action stars. But audiences want Hemsworth’s smile and wink and that can’t be found here.
Like the Taken and Transporter franchises, this sequel just re-hashes the framework of the first. Here, Hemsworth’s angry, dark hero must make another “extraction,” this time pulling his Russian ex-wife’s sister and her two kids out of a Russian (Georgian) prison, where she is being held with her crime boss husband. A thin under-current of the former sister-in-law as domestic abuse victim doesn’t get the necessary attention, as this movie is all about stacking up the body count, 1980s action movie style. And since all the bad guys (except one?) get theirs, that must make it okay.
Extraction 2 has no more drama than a teenager playing a first person shooter video game, which is a major disservice to the first movie and its source material and creators. Part of the movie tries to be Clear and Present Danger, another part wants to parrot Die Hard. The rest is bits of Skyfall filled with coincidences and poor decisions by the characters. Every scene and situation is preposterous, with Hemsworth’s hero left to be the sole survivor of multiple scenes full of attackers doing that one-by-one, take-turns-to-attack-the-hero thing you only see in bad action movies. The cinematography by Greg Baldi, replacing Newton Sigel from the first movie, has headache-inducing jerky camera movements, coupled with several poorly lit action sequences.
The first movie put the hero in a place where you might have seen a young Liam Neeson, Jeremy Renner, or Mark Wahlberg make a hit out of the story in the past decade. Extraction 2 is a Steven Seagal B-movie script. Hemsworth is a better actor than that at a more important stage of his career. Or maybe one guy really can shoot three helicopters out of the sky.
Could a different screenwriter or director have saved this sequel? It’s difficult with all the real-world violence to get past the thoughtless mass shooting rampaging. Hopefully the Russos go back to what made the first movie good and try again for their Extraction 3, already greenlit based on Netflix opening weekend numbers. Extraction 2 is streaming now on Netflix.