Netflix’s Extraction is standard, run-of-the-mill action-thriller fare

EXTRACTION - Credit: Jasin Boland/NETFLIX
EXTRACTION - Credit: Jasin Boland/NETFLIX /

Chris Hemsworth is as interchangeable a leading man as they come in the Russo Brothers-produced Netflix action-thriller Extraction.

In the COVID-19-induced content void we’re living in, we’ve been growing hungrier and hungrier for new movies to watch (that don’t cost a small fortune to rent for two days). Just when we thought we were going to have to rent Trolls: World Tour to stay entertained, along came Netflix with its newest release: Extraction.

Extraction is an action-thriller starring Chris Hemsworth (who consistently ranks in the middle on our ranking of Hollywood Chrises), written by Joe Russo (of the Marvel Russo brothers), and directed by Sam Hargrave (a Marvel stunt coordinator and frequent Russo brothers collaborator making his directorial debut).

The film is based on a comic called Ciudad (which is also written by the Russo brothers) and follows the story of Tyler Rake (Hemsworth), a black market mercenary as he struggles to help the son of an Indian druglord escape from captivity in Bangladesh.

The film’s plot is nothing revolutionary — it’s a paint-by-numbers action thriller that could be set in any country in the world with any leading man. The setting is of no real consequence to the story, nor is the film’s cast, which results in a strong lack of urgency or agency in either aspect.

Perhaps the film’s biggest draw is Chris Hemsworth, who of course became a household name as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, Hemsworth’s performance here is incredibly unremarkable to the point where it feels one-note. His character Tyler operates in three modes: kicking ass, making quips, and crying — and he spends a vast majority of the film doing the first of the three.

Tyler is a fundamentally uninteresting character — through no fault of Hemsworth’s — but the flat writing is in no way redeemed by his performance.  It’s difficult to pin the blame on a single aspect of the film when it’s so many pieces working in harmony to make the character uninteresting, but any way we slice it, Tyler is one of Hemsworth’s most forgettable characters and a major misuse of his acting abilities.

Hemsworth has shown time after time that his surprising aptitude for comedy is where he truly shines, but here he’s typecast for his looks first and his acting abilities second. The role of Tyler might fit better for a Matt Damon or Mark Whalberg — yet the film wouldn’t have changed at all if one of those two was the lead.

It’s painful because there are moments where Tyler shows tiny glimpses of humor, and those are easily his best scenes. To see that talent go unused for such a large chunk of the movie is a disappointment. Rudraksh Jaiswal, who plays Tyler’s young charge Ovi, certainly keeps pace with Hemsworth and performs admirably with the writing he’s given. But, like Tyler, Ovi is such a shallow character it’s difficult to care for him.

The rest of the cast fills out in a similar way. Golshifteh Farahani’s character could be removed from the film entirely and little would change, as could David Harbour’s. Harbour’s presence is especially egregious because he’s such a big name that the film carves out a good 20 minutes just for his character, only to then kill him off and move on with no effect on the plot.

Two of the film’s villains do rise above the pack. Amir Asif (played by Priyanshu Painyuli) is a stylish, sadistic drug lord with a few good scenes who almost makes the film worth a watch. He also plays incredibly well off of Suraj Rikame, a young boy who finds himself conscripted into Asif’s army of child soldiers.

The film’s most interesting character (and one who we thought would have frankly made a better protagonist than Tyler) is Saju, a henchman of Ovi’s father who goes to Bangladesh in an attempt to rescue the boy himself. Randeep Hooda’s performance is incredibly believable and emotional, which is more than can be said for Hemsworth.

However, we may be giving the characters more time than they’re worth in this review because Extraction is so chock full of action that it’s difficult to keep track of (or care about) the plot. Admittedly, the action itself is solid; the film is obviously shot with a stunt coordinator’s eye, and the fight choreography is creative and would keep us interested if there weren’t so many fights.

Yes, it’s an action movie, but the sequences blend together, and there’s no excuse for a film with such a simple premise to push the two-hour mark when it could’ve been just as good with an hour and twenty-five-minute runtime.

Extraction also has some remarkably strong camerawork and cinematography from Newton Thomas Sigel (whose work is most prominently featured in the X-Men franchise), but much of those shots are hindered by the sheer amount of color grading. Some scenes are so yellow, it feels as if we’re watching a two-hour Breaking Bad episode.

In the end, Extraction is a solid film if you’re looking for action, but falls flat in terms of both character, premise, and performance, and dabbles a little too closely toward being a white savior movie to make it worth watching when compared to other classics of the genre.

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Have you seen Extraction? What’s your favorite Chris Hemsworth movie? Sound off in the comments below.