Who was that guy that Ovi saw when he got out of the pool before the screen went dark? Could Tyler Rake be still alive? If so, what does he want coming to Ovi?
After more than 90 minutes of relentless, elaborately choreographed chase sequences and fight scenes, “Extraction” ends on a note of mystery and ambiguity.
Having successfully transported the young Ovi out of Dhaka, leaving a trail of bodies in their wake, a bloody and battered Rake appears to die in a climactic gunfight on a bridge out of the city, plunging into the river below after having been shot in the neck. His final thoughts, seen in flashbacks, are of his own dead son, suggesting that in sacrificing his life to save Ovi’s he found a final measure of peace after years of torment over that heartbreaking loss.
Then, in a final coda before the credits roll, we see Ovi months later, now relocated and living in safety from his father’s enemies, dive into a swimming pool. As he surfaces from the water, he turns to the side of the pool and sees what appears to be Rake, watching over him. The image is blurry but the implication seems clear: Rake has, in fact, survived and is continuing to protect Ovi from harm.
Or has he? Maybe Rake isn’t physically there but is a kind of spectral presence, guarding Ovi from the beyond. Or maybe he is simply a figment of the boy’s imagination. Or maybe it’s just some random guy standing by the side of a pool.
Stunt coordinator-turned-director Sam Hargrave, who makes his feature debut with “Extraction,” says it was deliberately left to the audience to decide how to interpret the film’s final moments.
“We did it in a way that was purposefully ambiguous,” Hargrave says. “If you view the movie and you feel like Tyler’s redemption is completed through sacrifice, then you would see that in one way, with the kid honouring him through a vision. Or if you loved the character and his overcoming all of the odds to survive is what made the story happy for you, then you will see Tyler Rake in that image. Hopefully, people will be satisfied with the ending no matter how they feel about the movie along the way.”
Hargrave says that ambiguous ending evolved over the course of the film’s development and through its filming, with different versions being shot along the way. “There were certain ideas going into the production of Tyler’s fate and halfway through our perspective of that fate started to shift,” he says. “We didn’t want to alienate viewers and we tried to satisfy both sides. During test screenings, there was kind of a 50-50 split on people wanting Tyler to live or wanting Tyler to die. So there was a desire to kind of please both sides by having a bit of ambiguity.”
In leaving open the possibility that Rake survived, of course, the film also creates an opening for a sequel. The Russos, who adapted “Extraction” from a graphic novel called “Ciudad” that they co-wrote with Ande Parks about a decade ago, say that they discussed the potential of building a franchise around Rake during the film’s development. But they insist that “Extraction” wasn’t designed with that in mind.
“You certainly talk about that when you’re in loose creative conversations about a project, that this could be an interesting character to follow on a few stories,” says Joe Russo, who wrote the film’s script. “But it can never be your intention. Because if the movie doesn’t work, you don’t have a franchise. You really have to focus all your effort and energy on the movie.”