The new Netflix action movie Extraction rates at a zero on the star’s charm scale. The mini-Marvel reunion — director Sam Hargrave was the stunt coordinator on several Marvel films, Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo wrote the script, and he and Anthony Russo are producers — relies on action and violence, drowning Hemsworth’s natural charisma in blood.
“Extraction” is based on a graphic novel that was written, and is now adapted by, “Avengers: Endgame” co-director Joe Russo as a starring vehicle for Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. Shorn of his blonde locks, his mighty hammer, and his sense of humour, Hemsworth plays a superhero mercenary for hire named Tyler Rake.
When Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the teenage son of a drug lord (Pankaj Tripathi), is kidnapped, Rake is called into Dhaka, Bangladesh to rescue him. The job, however, is a set-up. Lacking the money to pay Rake, the drug lord’s second-in-command, Saju (Randeep Hooda), plans to kill the mercenary once Ovi is safe and sound. When the kidnappers, rivals of Ovi’s father, redouble their efforts to get the boy back, Rake and Ovi are put between a rock and a hard place with no choice but to fight their way out.
It’s a gnarly kill, right through the eyes of one of the hundreds of expendable extras. Such grotesquerie signifies just how hard the R-rating will be on this Netflix release; heads are treated poorly, broken bones protrude and bodies are flung from buildings and riddled with bullets. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, considering how welcome it is that stunt coordinator-turned-director Sam Hargrove frames the carnage in well-edited, easy-to-follow chunks. I’m just letting you know what you’re in for here.
Russo’s script makes overtures at creating emotional investment by giving Rake mysterious flashbacks to a tiny pair of legs, suggesting that his increasing commitment to Ovi is grounded in past family trauma. Ovi also confides in Rake about his misgivings as to his father’s line of work, and Saju becomes something of an antihero as his ruthlessness stems from wanting to shield his family from the boy’s father’s wrath.
To Hargrave’s credit, the action in Extraction is gripping. A 12-minute chase sequence stitched together to look like a single take is impossible to look away from, and rather than dissolving into unintelligibly blurry shots, the fights are always clear despite just how much is happening in them. Hemsworth’s size (he’s 6’3” tall) is also constantly evident as he charges through alleyways and takes on an endless stream of foes of more average heights.
There’s no Hulk equivalent here, save for a fight between Hemsworth and David Harbour, who crops up as one of Rake’s acquaintances. The match, which takes place inside a house, demonstrates how alarming it would be to have two 6’3” men thrown down in your kitchen.