“Extraction”- Movie Review

It’s been over a month since I’ve been to the theater, and let me tell you, I’ve been having some serious withdrawals. I miss being able to go to a screening, chilled water bottle and contraband snack in hand, and relax and enjoy watching a movie with surround-sound. Thankfully our current age of streaming and video-on-demand offers a plethora of content, so staying entertained during lockdown isn’t impossible. And among the plethora is a little Netflix film called Extraction

Written by MCU veteran Joe Russo and directed by stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave, this action thriller centers around the kidnapping of Ovi Mahajan (Hudraksh Jaiswal), the son of India’s most ruthless drug lord. Sent to rescue him is Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth), a black market mercenary who, of course, is wrestling with his own personal demons. Already this mission is geared to be a perilous task, but things get even more complicated when Rake realizes that a lot more people are after the kid than he initially thought.

Extraction is one of those movies that’s hard to talk about. Not because it’s cringingly awful, and not because it’s rife with anything controversial. It’s hard to talk about because there’s nothing especially bad or especially exceptional about it. It’s fine. It’s a perfectly fine and serviceable action flick. The flaws in its story aren’t heavy enough to make it a bad film. Even when you break it down into its essential elements, you’d find that what’s good about the movie outweighs the parts that aren’t as strong.

man in sweat-stained grey shirt walks among a crowd in India
Courtesy of Netflix via Facebook

Example one- the action. Director Sam Hargrave’s experience in stunt work definitely shows on screen. Each aspect of the action is on point. The choreography- chase sequences, hand-to-hand combat, gunplay- is fantastic, and the sequences themselves are filmed with such sharp focus that you can easily make out what’s going on. Stylistically speaking, the action has a realistic sense of grit. The violence is graphic, brutal, and unflinchingly raw. And despite being a fun action movie, the portrayal of violence never feels over-sensationalized. I know a handful of critics would say otherwise, but to them I’d argue that some films handle their excessive violence much, much worse.

Additional pluses are the pacing and acting. The movie is never boring. It keeps your attention with a consistent tension and sense of urgency. Chris Hemsworth and Randeep Hooda deliver the film’s stand-out performances. Both add a lot of nuance to their roles, Hooda in particular as Ovi’s caretaker who is forced to retrieve the boy or else see his family murdered. Each major character has something interesting about them, whether that something is a backstory or a certain dynamic with another character, but the film never takes the time to explore them. And I know the film isn’t trying to be some deep-character-driven drama. It knows exactly what it is- a gritty and violent action flick. I don’t expect much substance. Though I do think the script misses the opportunity to at the very least flesh out these characters further to make them more three-dimensional. The blueprints are there: Ovi’s life as a drug lord’s son, his caretaker’s personal relationship with Ovi, a personal connection between Ovi and Rake. And if the filmmakers had followed through with this type of development, perhaps establishing them through a single scene or string of dialogue, they would have elevated the film a few extra notches.

Nonetheless, Extraction is a fun sit. It’s definitely a movie you’ve seen before, but there’s no harm in familiarity as long as the film is made well. And Extraction is objectively solid. It’s well-acted, well-directed, engaging and exciting from beginning to end. If you find yourself in a dull rutt while you’re quarantining at home, it’s a decent film to turn to for an adrenaline rush.

Cosmic Grade- 3.7/5 Stars

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