A common recipe for a good action movie is usually one part good director, 2 parts great actor with splashes of charisma and physicality, and a whole lot of great set pieces. Or in other words, the combination of director Sam Hargrave, action star Chris Hemsworth, and producers Mike Larocca, Anthony Russo, and Hemsworth himself.
“Extraction” is Sam Hargrave’s directorial debut and stars Chris Hemsworth as a jaded mercenary who must rescue the son of an infamous South-Asian drug lord from the clutches of a rival family. What seems to be a run-of-the-mill operation for Hemsworth’s character, Tyler Rake, soon goes awry and results in a high-stakes, adrenaline-fueled race for survival.
A common assumption of action movies is that the cast of characters we’re supposed to care about are painfully bland and uninteresting, however “Extraction” has some surprisingly intimate character moments and depth for a film of its genre. It may not be an Aaron Sorkin screenplay driven by dialogue, but the characters do have a sufficient level of dimension. Hemsworth completely embodies and owns the character of Tyler Rake and his ‘nothing left to lose’ character trope common in jaded action stars, but that would admittedly fall flat without the humanizing presence of Rudhraksh Jaiswal’s character, Ovi Mahajan, the son of an Indian drug-lord captured by his father’s rivals. Ovi’s presence alongside Rake provides a necessary contrast to the battle-hardened mercenary while also upping the stakes as Ovi’s well being is the focal point of the story and Rake’s foremost motivation. The most interesting aspect of the story is the quiet moments between these two characters: one dealing with an immense sense of loss and a resulting nihilism while the other struggles with self-worth and a strong desire for any kind of parental affection.
If intimate character moments isn’t what you came here for, then rest assured, there’s plenty of amazing action as well. “Extraction” earns its R-rating as the streets of Dhaka are left unrecognizable after our main characters have passed through followed closely by their armed pursuers.
Sam Hargrave’s background in stunt coordination is very prominent in every action set piece in the film, which combines perfectly with the diverse camera angles through which he shoots the movie. A particular scene that is beautifully executed is a near 10 minute long take of Rake and Ovi in a high-speed car chase, followed by them leaving the scene after a crash only to stealthily deal with multiple combatants in an abandoned building, to escape in a truck that they crash into a police blockade before finally escaping. All the while you find yourself unable to take your eyes away from the chaos in front of you and unable to stop your heart from beating as fast as it is. This scene is one of many action packed sequences in the film.
All in all, “Extraction” is a surprise hit with both unrelenting action as well as intimate character arcs hidden within one-dimensional character tropes.