SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for Sam Hargrave’s Extraction. If you have not yet seen the film, proceed at your own risk!
By the time that the third act fire fight in the action-thriller Extraction is ready to conclude, Chris Hemsworth’s Tyler Rake is in sincerely bad shape. The character takes some brutal injuries over the course of the movie, but as teased in the flash-forward at the start of the film he is basically knocking on death’s door by the end as he works to conclude his mission protecting young kidnapping victim Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal). The final blow seems to come from a young antagonist who throughout the feature has been working to prove himself, surprising Rake by shooting him through the throat – and this leads the hero to trip over the railing of a bridge and plummet to the water below.
This moment seemingly spells the end for Tyler Rake… but is it? The end of Extraction leaves that question up in the air, as a final moment reveals a mysterious figure seemingly watching over Ovi. It’s an interesting question mark for the movie to end on, so I decided to ask about it when I had the chance last week to speak with Chris Hemsworth and director Sam Hargrave via video chat:
Ending with a time jump, Extraction’s final scene finds Ovi demonstrating courage he self-professedly lacked at the start of the movie, summoning the testicular fortitude necessary to take a leap off a high dive at a pool – and when he hits the water he acts reminiscent to Tyler from the beginning of the film performing his epic cliff jump. For a moment he quietly meditates in the deep end, but when surfaces he looks off in the distance and sees someone observing him.
Is it Tyler Rake, having somehow managed to survive all of his injuries and returning as a guardian figure for Ovi? Or is it simply a representation of Tyler’s spirit watching over Ovi as he pursues a life post-his father trying to kill him? There is no conclusive answer offered by Extraction itself, leaving the decision up to the audience… and that’s entirely the point.
I asked Chris Hemsworth and Sam Hargrave about the fate of Tyler Rake and the conversations that were had about it behind the scenes, and both offered interesting insight in regards to how Extraction’s ending came to be. Starting off, Hemsworth (who is also a producer on the feature) explained that how the movie would conclude was a key discussion during post-production and finalizing the cut. Not only was a strong reliance on test audiences and their reactions, but he also revealed that there were different versions that were shot to give the filmmakers options:
The idea to sort of keep it ambiguous, you know, based on different audience responses in the testing and so on about kind of what they believe would have happened or wanted to happen. And we shot a few different versions of the ending just as a sort of a backup. And I'm thankful for that, that Sam insisted on doing that just to cover all bases, you know?
Unfortunately I didn’t have time during the interview to follow-up about Extraction’s alternate endings – but I both wonder about their content, and also if there’s a possibility we could ever see them. Netflix is the film’s distributor, and they don’t really do “special features” in their app, so it’s unlikely that they will be released that way. That being said, the streaming service has been known to occasionally produce Blu-rays for their original content, so maybe that could be the way we eventually see them.
Regardless of what could have been, the ending of Extraction that is in the finished cut of the movie is a choice that Sam Hargrave feels is designed to satisfy two different audiences at the end of the day: those who don’t want Tyler Rake to be dead, and those who feel that the character was given a satisfactory death. Rather than just telling you what the answer is, the director thinks it’s better that viewers take what they want from the experience. Said Hargrave,
Because there was a split reaction amongst audiences, we tried to satisfy both sides. Hopefully if you as an audience member loved the character, want to see more then you will see one result of that final image. You'll see Tyler there. If you felt like his story is completed through sacrifice, you might see someone different standing there. So hopefully it was satisfying even though people might have a question, but maybe they get talking to their friends saying, 'Hey, go see this movie cause I want to talk to you about the ending'. It was purposefully ambiguous.
Of course, things may become a bit more definitive if Netflix decides that they really want an Extraction sequel, but until that day comes audiences can just take what they want from the films as it exists.