Though Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Evans have both parted ways with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (in a vain hope for greener pastures?) Chris Hemsworth will be back as Thor… though it most likely will be delayed at least a little due to the global COVID-19 quarantine. In the meantime, though, fans can still get their fix of their favorite Australian beefcake whooping up on bad guys in Extraction, the latest Netflix original.
Playing like a dumbed-down version of John Wick, if John Wick were a former Special Ops dude wasting away in the Outback, the film has all the makings of a decent action thriller but instead crumbles under the weight of a ridiculously implausible story and excessive violence. Give Hemsworth credit, though, he proves definitively that he doesn’t need a cape and a hammer (or an all-star cast by his side) to carry a movie. If only he were given better material with which to work.
As Tyler Rake (now there’s a name for the ages) Hemsworth is the key component of a small mercenary force that rents its services out to the highest bidder. Here, it’s a jailed Indian drug lord, who’s youngish son has been kidnapped by his rival in Bangladesh. It takes Rake a matter of minutes to actually find the boy and free him from his captors (he bloodily dispatches a dozen men without even blinking), but getting the kid back home is the hard part.
Hell in a handbasket doesn’t even begin to describe the mess Rake finds himself in. The entire Bangladeshi police force is on the take, and the boy’s own disgraced bodyguard wants in on the action, too, which means Rake finds himself as a lone wolf in a foreign land with bullets and fists (and knives and grenades) whizzing by his head at what seems like a record pace. That’s hard enough, but when you add babysitting a helpless young teen boy into the mix, it’s a recipe for a true mission impossible.
First-time director Sam Hargrave, who cut his teeth as the stunt coordinator for Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame, certainly has the chops to put an action sequence together. Early on, in fact, a bit made to look like one 12-minute-long continuous shot—featuring an extended car chase, a manhunt through a skid-row apartment complex, and a second vehicle chase—is an expertly choreographed as they come, adding to the immediacy of the story without feeling gimmicky. It’s Hargrave’s over-reliance on upping the body count, however, that cheapens the movie the longer (and bloodier) it goes.
How much blame falls on Hargrave and how much belongs to screenwriter Joe Russo (penning his first script since 2002’s Welcome to Collinwood), we may never know, but since whatever dialogue there is consists mainly of Rake telling the kid to stay behind him or to keep up, I’m inclined to think that what we end up seeing is more the result of a ramp-it-up newbie director overcompensating in his debut effort.
Extraction isn’t terrible by any means, and Hemsworth does more than hold up his end of the bargain, but the film winds up feeling like Michael Bay without the splash or a Saturday matinee version of a Jason Bourne thriller. It’s bullets and blow-ups and big-bang-boom without much else to show for it.