The hero of Extraction, Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth), was introduced in the pages of a graphic novel, but he doesn’t wear a cape or skin-tight leotards. Instead, he’s proficient – nay, spectacular – with virtually any weapon, and he seems to use them all on the mission we follow in Sam Hargrave’s bloody thriller.
Hemsworth’s already an action star, holding down a key role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while also dabbling in uneven franchise efforts like Men In Black International or The Huntsman: Winter’s War. With Extraction, one gets the sense that the credible physical performer watched The Raid, or Keanu Reeves’ John Wick series, and thought, “Why not me?”
Rake is a mercenary, a gun for hire that top dollar people bring in when a task seems impossible. In Extraction, he’s ordered to retrieve the son of a drug kingpin who has been kidnapped by a rival. But there are wrinkles added by screenwriter Joe Russo (yes, of the famous Russo Brothers) that help keep Extraction interesting as the bodies begin to pile up.
Tyler Rake Has A Past, Which Allows Chris Hemsworth To Act
One of the strikes against a movie like The Raid or even the John Wick franchise is that we don’t get enough time to learn about the protagonist before they simply begin mowing down adversaries. Some thugs killed Wick’s dog? Cool, go get those bastards.
Extraction gives Rake a backstory, and it’s a devastating one. Russo and Hargrave hint at it as the action ramps up. There are shadows casting dark spots on Rake’s soul, and initially Hemsworth has to merely play various sides of the sharpened blade. But as he retrieves the kidnapped child (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) and gradually opens up to him, he understand why Rake fights, and process some horrible decisions he made that have pushed him down this bloody path.There’s one particular speech that Joe Russo gives to Hemsworth about the definition of bravery that had me looking at Extraction from a different viewpoint, elevating it above the bullet-laden action thrillers with which its stands shoulder to bloody shoulder.
Sam Hargrave Learned Action From The Best In The Making Of Extraction
We’ve seen a handful of directors graduate to filmmaker after cutting their teeth in production roles on franchise efforts. Add Extraction helmer Sam Hargrave to the list. The action in Extraction is relentless, polished, inspired, bone-breaking and raw. Even if the story doesn’t hook you, Extraction is worth a screening to sink your teeth into some of the most painful-looking fight sequences available at the moment. Hemsworth administers beatings, and receives beatings. It’s an unstoppable barrage of physical agony.
It looks good because Hargrave spent years as a stunt coordinator on Marvel Studios pics (Avengers: Endgame, Captain America: Civil War), rival superhero adventures (Deadpool 2 for David Leitch, Suicide Squad for David Ayer) and the Pirates of the Carribean series. He was even Zach Braff’s stunt double in two episodes of Scrubs!
Hargrave has been around stunts his entire career, so it’s understandable if his focus falls on the choreography of some massive fights and chase sequences over deeper character development or logistical plot twists. There has been a lot of pre-release hype around a 12-minute one-shot dropped in the middle of Extraction, with good reason. There are moments inside of the oner that do amaze (though the stitches are easy to spot, as well). It ultimately proves that Hargrave has a future in this genre, should he choose to explore it further.
One And Done Is Perfectly Fine For Extraction
Not everything needs to be a franchise. Extraction is a captivating mission for a flawed hero who wrestles with some of his own dark demons as he also disperses the enemies who stand in his way. It’s a good part for Hemsworth, who’s authentically relatable while also being the exact physical specimen we hope to see in an action thriller. And the ambiguous ending leaves the door open for more stories.
With all due respect, they aren’t needed. Extraction doesn’t convince us that there’s a lot more to mine from this situation, and sometimes it’s OK to remind the industry that one successful movie doesn’t mean a series has been born.
Hemsworth won’t be short for work. The Russo Brothers won’t be short for work. And Sam Hargrave (after studios get a look at this sizzle reel) won’t be short for work. So let’s see them dig into a new hero, in a wildly different genre. Apply their talents to riveting stories totally detached from this cloth. Too often, studios look to reuse and recycle something to worked pretty well the first time through, usually with tepid results. Extraction stands strong on its own, and for now, that’s enough.
Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.