Extraction is Netflix's latest action film. Written by Joe Russo, the film follows Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth), a former SASR operator turned mercenary on a mission to rescue Ovi Mahajan Jr. (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of India's biggest drug lord Ovi Mahajan Sr (Pankaj Tripathi), when the former is kidnapped by a Bangladeshi drug-lord (Priyanshu Painyuli). Things do not go as planned, and what awaits is an intense action film that has more gunshots than dialogue. Extraction features an international star cast that also includes the names of, Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Farahani, and David Harbour, among others.
Wafer-thin plot invigorated by splendid action set pieces: Directed by Sam Hargrave - the man behind the action pieces of some of the biggest action films in the history of cinema, Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War, to name a few - it is no surprise that the action set pieces of Extraction are spectacularly crafted. The script primarily, however, acts only as a bridge from one set piece to the other. The action, that ranges from hand-to-hand combat to missile launchers, dazzles with blood and bullets. Subtlety is not one Extraction’s traits. It is explicitly self-aware of its identity, a giant action movie, and plays well within its comfort zone. It is also the least problematic when the focus is on breaking bones and putting bullets in baddies' heads. Had breathtaking action been the only merit to evaluate an action film, Extraction is very well in the league of The Godfather. But is that the case, though? Although the film flaunts its 'big dumb action movie' (BGAM) tag in every scene, it can't refrain the film from exposing cracks of its feeble script. I discern expecting fleshed-out characters in a BGAM is like expecting sex from Pixar movie, but the presence of strong characters could have exponentially increased the impact of these actions scenes. We are given a tiny backstory for Tyler that involves a dead child, and his relationship with Ovi Jr. is deliberately written to reflect his past, with a pinch of redemption. This whole aspect feels like checking boxes. Sad backstory, check. Redemption, check. Bonding between characters, check. The action sequences are not futile, but the presence of human vulnerability could have infused the anxiety and stakes, because it is apparent that Thor will save the kid, no matter what.
Formula outweighs the action: The film's setting, Bangladesh and India, is probably the only relatively fresh aspect in this otherwise by-the-book film. The visuals, aided by a sunny color palette, succeed in making the crowded streets and dense cities look beautiful in panoramic shots. As an Indian, you can take my word for the film's accuracy in depicting road traffic in the sub-continent. A car hits a man - who is indulged in a knife fight in the middle of the road - it is accurate. For Hollywood, Bangladesh might be the new Mexico. Realism is not the film's forte, and it certainly doesn't strive to be realistic either. It is also the least of the film's issues. The bigger muddle, though, is the screenplay that takes long breaks in the pretext of 'character development', and sadly, these moments feel forced to instigate sentimental resonance. These dialogue sequences are fundamentally present to let Tyle and Ovi Jr. get to know each other, and fail to gel with the film in its entirety.
Although fireworks blow periodically in Extraction, the light-weight script takes down the heavy-handed action.
Watch Extraction via Netflix