With style akin to John Wick and Atomic Blonde, Sam Hargrave’s Extraction features Chris Hemsworth performing in a wide variety of different fight sequences – but one of them has a particular angle that you don’t typically see a lot of in the genre. While the majority of opponents the actor battles throughout the movie are adults, in the big picture the protagonist is up against an enemy who employs children as soldiers, and so there’s a scene where Hemsworth has to neutralize a gang of pre-teens trying to kill him.
It’s not exactly the kind of thing you can fake with VFX, and it required the star to exercise a whole different mode of fighting, so I felt compelled to ask about it earlier this week when I had the chance to talk with Chris Hemsworth and Sam Hargrave via video call. I asked about their approach to the Extraction scene and about potential feelings of trepidation, and you can watch them discuss the sequence by clicking play on the video below:
The scene in discussion here unfolds shortly after Extraction’s most epic sequence – a 12 minute fight & chase that plays out as one shot – and finds Chris Hemsworth’s Tyler Rake in pretty bad condition. He’s broken and bleeding from his first day of trying to protect a kid he has just rescued from a kidnapping, and is trying to find shelter while also avoiding attention. The mercenary and his temporary charge are set upon by a group of youths trying to prove themselves in the organization run by the drug lord who set up the kidnapping, and Rake has to change up his moves a bit so that he merely delivers severe beat downs instead of fatal blows.
Discussing the gentle-but-not action beat, Chris Hemsworth emphasized the fact that Tyler Rake was working hard not to do severe damage to the kids, while also factoring in that their plan is to leave him bleeding in the dirt. Said the actor,
I mean, it was about... he was removing them from harm in a way. He basically was avoiding himself and the young boy he was with getting captured and killed. But it had to be done differently than he would have if they were adults. Sam, you organized and choreographed that, and it was sort of endless conversations about how we can do this with, you know, in a nicer manner.
Picking up from where Chris Hemsworth left off, Sam Hargrave noted that he was definitely surprised to find the sequence while reading the script written by Avengers: Endgame co-director Joe Russo, and immediately recognized that it was something that was going to require a different approach than the majority of action scenes in Extraction. At the same time, one thing that he loved about it was that it was a fight that clearly accentuated aspects of Tyler Rake’s personality and morals:
We walked the line, but it was also, even on the page, it was something eyebrow-raising of like, 'Oh, we're gonna do an action scene with a bunch of children.' But I think, like Chris said, is that the point is that the intention is very different, and that's the point of action to me, is you're revealing things about character.
There is a very clear illustration of who Tyler Rake is as a person versus Extraction’s primary antagonist (played by Priyanshu Painyuli) in the way in which they treat the young and innocent around them. While the film’s villain takes no issue with kids being tossed off rooftops in one scene, Rake not only spares the lives of his diminutive would-be killers, but puts the safety of his ward, Rudhraksh Jaiswal's Ovi, above all else.
Being a first time feature director after a long career of work in stunts, Sam Hargrave felt it was critical to use Extraction’s action scenes to do more than just thrill the audience. Said the filmmaker,
The way Chris would come up against adult people who were in his way, he handles that very differently than how he does with the kids. And that kind of shows who he is inside as a character thing that we show through action. And so he, you know, he didn't kill any of the kids. They were out to get him, and he roughed him up pretty good, but he did have a line that he would not cross. But we went right up to the edge of that line.