Extraction review: The best action movie scene of 2020, but not much else
Chris Hemsworth and the team behind some of the Avengers' most memorable moments assemble for a gritty action.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is on hiatus, but some of the talent behind your favorite Marvel movies are about to drop a bomb on Netflix. Extraction premieres April 24, and it might just be the thing to cure your MCU addiction.
Starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor in Marvel's universe), directed by Sam Hargrave (stunts for Avengers: Endgame, Infinity War, and Captain America: Civil War) and written by Joe Russo (one half of the Russo brothers director duo behind those same Marvel movies), Extraction is about as far as you can get from the MCU while still sticking firmly in action movie territory.
It's a violent romp through the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh, that features some of the best action seen in a movie so far this year. (If Birds of Prey was an early high bar, this movie makes Harley Quinn look like Winnie the Pooh). It also features a thrilling single-shot sequence that might rival 1917.
But packed into all that mayhem and murder is a story of redemption that ultimately can't hold itself up under the weight of all that spilled blood.
The premise here is simple and appealing. Hemsworth plays a drunk, muscly mercenary hired by an Indian drug lord to rescue his kidnapped son from a rival drug lord in Bangladesh. The rescue is easy — Hemsworth wipes out a compound of henchmen with a mix of bullets and brute force — but the twist comes when we learn he's been double-crossed. Instead of paying, Hemsworth's benefactor turns on him, leading to a chase across the city as mobsters and police alike hunt down our anti-hero.
At around this point — roughly half-way through its 2-hour runtime — Extraction delivers its most stunning moment: a lengthy "oner" in which the camera follows Hemsworth as he moves from car chase to gunshots in a claustrophobic apartment building to a gnarly knife fight in the middle of the street. For over 10 minutes, the camera never cuts away thanks to a mix of clever editing, daredevil filmmaking (Hargrave strapped himself to the front of a movie car to get some shots), and brutal stunts performed by Hemsworth himself.
This moment in the middle of Extraction is a crowning achievement, a glimmering centerpiece that makes the entire film worthwhile. Unfortunately, nothing else can match this one scene. A few other explosive set pieces are fun in a vacuum but lame by comparison. (A final shootout on a bridge is tense but predictable.) And the rest of the movie is made up of mediocre dialogue reaching for an emotional subplot that's not there.
Extraction really wants you to care about Hemsworth's character and his redemption story, but you probably won't. That's a shame, because Hemsworth has proven himself to be much more than big muscles and an enviable jawline. He's a great comedic actor with loads of heart, but his character here is just mad and moody. He never cracks a smile, let alone a joke.
I'm not saying I need Hemsworth to make quips in between headshots, but Extraction suffers from a lack of comedic relief. Considering the movie's leading man — and an appearance from David Harbour — that feels like a huge missed opportunity.
Overall, I do think Extraction is worth checking out. If you're a fan of Chris Hemsworth and you love Marvel movies but wish they had more blood and fewer superpowers, then this is the film for you. That said, it's also a movie that peaks at the halfway point.
After watching that single-shot action scene, I paused the movie and took a bathroom break. In hindsight, I wish I'd stopped watching entirely right then and there before Extraction could disappoint me.
Extraction premieres April 24 on Netflix.