Director: Sam Hargrave
Screenwriters: Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Randeep Hooda, David Harbour, Priyanshu Painyuli, Rudhraksh Jaiswal
Netflix Original action movie Extraction is a tremendous example of what can be achieved when the correct creative minds are attached to a project, this Chris Hemsworth star vehicle produced by Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo being every bit the hard-hitting and violent film it promised to be, its sensationally creative action sequences elevating the entire project way beyond its trope-ridden roots.
At its core, Extraction is an easy-to-understand story of good guys with just enough characterisation to get you to like them and bad guys who are shown to do at least one evil thing that will make you despise them, the screenplay written by producer Joe Russo (and adapted from the graphic novel “Ciudad”) being riddled with all the tropes of your typical gun-heavy, caricature-laden international rescue mission movie, Chris Hemsworth the 2020 stand-in for 80s action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger and post-9/11 action heroes like Matt Damon. There are minor comments made on political unrest and the true victims of gang wars, but Extraction is mostly set up to show off some extraordinary talent when it comes to stunt co-ordination and performances; and in this regard there have been few films put to screen in the past few years that can even rival this Netflix Original.
The action here is quick, exciting, creative and brutal, first time feature director Sam Hargrave using his experience of co-ordinating the stunt work on the Russo Bros’ Marvel movies to create something totally unique – there are few films that get close to presenting fights in such a cinematic but believable fashion as Extraction, a film that packs a way heavier punch than you might expect. Battles role from the streets, through houses, into cars and back onto the streets without losing even a snippet of momentum, each bruising blow and transitional fall filmed and edited in such a way that it’s impossible to lose focus on what you’re watching, who you’re watching and who you’re rooting for. In pure action terms, Extraction is close to a masterpiece and at this stage in 2020 wouldn’t even have a contender if there was such a thing as a “Best Stunts” Oscar. Hargrave, in conjunction with his creative collaborators (not least Chris Hemsworth who is very hands-on with the stunt work), immerses you in a violent world so far from the comforts of our own society that it seems like an alternate universe, and he does so with all the conviction of some of the genre’s best.
Extraction is very much a modern Man on Fire (2004), the film feeling every bit like a posthumous Tony Scott film, something that in the more adult-edged side of the action genre – that being the type with kidnappings, brutal and at times graphic fights, etc. – there are few finer compliments to be paid. The story is simple, reductive even, but the dressing is remarkable and the final product all the more exhilarating for it.
There may not be a standout dramatic performance, any notable CG, no alien threat from a far away galaxy or “end of the world” consequences to the actions in this film, but the way in which Extraction takes the action genre back to its basic concept of presenting incomparable action is worth every second.
Leave your Michael Bay nonsense to languish in the pit of Netflix’s back catalogue, this is how you make an all-out shooter action movie.