Extraction

Sam Hargrave, 2020

Rating:

Extraction sees the Marvel Cinematic Universe's stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave take on his first attempt behind the camera, teaming up with longtime collaborators the Russo Brothers who helped to produce the film, with Joe Russo also providing the screenplay.

The story follows a black-market mercenary Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) who is assigned the tough task of rescuing a kidnapped child out of a town in Dhaka. This task is, of course, is met with various obstacles as Rake is almost immediately double-crossed by Saju Rav (Randeep Hooda) who is himself an ex-Special Forces soldier who can't afford to pay to Rake the requested fee to carry out the job. This begs the question of why Saju didn't choose to carry out the extraction himself and is one of the first of many questionable plot points throughout the film.

Whilst certain plot holes can be forgivable and redeemed by the quality of other areas, the film's problems don't stop there. There is also the frustrating task of trying to connect with the lax efforts to introduce an emotional backstory for our central character and to not find some of the film's bizarre contrivances completely laughable. In one early scene, Hemsworth's character grabs a strangely placed garden rake that he finds in a rundown high-rise apartment and uses it to kill his enemies, it is then later revealed that he shares his surname with the garden tool. 

Joe Russo's screenplay seems lazy and hinders the film from being elevated to another level. The villain is a caricature and his scenes involve cartoonish levels of violence to prove his credentials. With the knowledge of Russo's strength in writing comedy and the self-awareness of some of his best work (Arrested Development and Community) I found myself dumbfounded and unsure over the tone of the film and how seriously I was meant to be taking it.

The most memorable and enjoyable sequences come in the latter sections of both halves of the film, including a twenty-minute chase/fight scene that combines impressive stunt coordination and digital editing. The film's action sequences are largely exciting and overindulgent in a way that action films should be. This editing allows for an immersive experience where every explosion, punch, and shot is felt.

As a piece of light entertainment, Extraction has some merit. Hargrave can clearly structure and shoot impressive action sequences. Unfortunately, beyond showcasing these talents the final film struggles to feel like much more than a live-action video game.

Written by Daniel Metcalf

Daniel Metcalf