Based on the graphic novel “Ciudad” by Ande Parks, Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Fernando León González and Eric Skillman, Extraction follows an Australian black-market mercenary hired to rescue an Indian drug lord’s kidnapped son from a rival drug lord in Dhaka, Bangladesh. After regretting the way he dealt with the death of his own son, this hired gun sees this mission as an opportunity to find redemption by doing right by the kidnapped boy when the mission goes wrong.
While the “morals” of the hero characters are seriously in question when one considers how many innocent people are killed in order to save the life of a criminal’s son, the impressive action sequences and strong performances still make Extraction an entertaining experience.
Directed by first time feature director, Sam Hargrave, Extraction starts with the kidnapping of an incarcerated Indian drug lord’s son, Ovi Mahajan (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), after he sneaks out of his house to hang out with friends at a club. Refusing to pay the ransom to his drug lord rival Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli), Ovi’s father, Ovi Majajan Sr. (Pankaj Tripathi) orders his son’s protector, former Indian Special Forces soldier Saju Rav (Randeep Hooda) to retrieve his son or else Saju’s family will meet a terrible fate.
In order to carry out the rescue of young Ovi, former Australian Special Air Service Regiment soldier Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) who now earns a living as a black market mercenary, is recruited by fellow mercenary Nik Kan (Golshifteh Farahani) to rescue Ovi. But the simple mission doesn’t go as planned. After Rake’s team is wiped out by Saju and the extraction mission payment left unpaid, double-crossed Rake is left stranded and injured in Dhaka with the teenage boy while the whole city is on lockdown.
With the corrupt authorities and criminal elements on the hunt for Rake and Ovi, Nik Kan suggests to Rake that he should abandon the boy and save himself. But Rake has already abandoned a child before and decides this time he will save the boy, no matter the cost.
Extraction is a straight up ultra-violent action movie that aims to impress audiences with its well choreographed and brutally violent action sequences in a style heavily borrowed from the John Wick franchise. But in between all the fighting and killing, it still manages to showcase the acting chops of its main “heroes”, played by Chris Hemsworth and Randeep Hooda – even if only for a few short moments.
Hemsworth is obviously more than capable of portraying the physical nature of a military soldier – he’s Thor after all. So I don’t really need to talk about his physical portrayal of ex-SAS Tyler Rake because he absolutely crushes it. What’s interesting about his performance are the moments where his character gets to slow down and deal with some real emotion and reflection on his life. It’s in these brief moments I finally learned Hemsworth is capable of more than just being comedic eye-candy in a failed Ghostbuster reboot or the constantly changing portrayal of the God of Thunder.
My favorite scene, probably the most powerful I’ve ever seen him in, is when Rake is talking to Ovi (played by Rudhraksh Jaiswal) and Ovi comments on Rake being brave. It’s in this scene that we learn through very few lines from Hemsworth that Rake doesn’t see himself as being brave or a hero, but a failed father. His anguish, regret and vulnerability is all communicated to the audience with more than just words and changed the way I view Hemsworth as an actor.
Randeep Hooda is also in a similar position with his portrayal of former Indian Special Forces soldier Saju Rav. It’s easy to pin him as the bad guy, or just another typical action character. However in Extraction he’s not just a simple “villain”. Saju Rav does what he does in order to save his family from his murderous boss. Like Hemsworth, Hooda is in great physical shape and does a great job of carrying out the physical requirements needed to be a special forces soldier. However, he too is given a moment where we see his priorities and vulnerability – his family.
While he has a dangerous mission to carry out, Saju Rav still finds time to talk to his son and maintain that father/son relationship. Where Hemsworth plays a father who has already failed, Hooda is playing a father whose family is still around and he is doing all he can to protect them.
While this is Sam Hargrave’s feature film directorial debut, he is no stranger to the film industry. Hargrave has a long impressive resume as a stuntman, stunt coordinator and fight choreographer over the past 15 years and chances are you’ve already seen his work in action, having been involved with massive titles such as Avengers: Endgame, Deadpool 2, Suicide Squad and pretty much every other superhero movie for the past 10 years.
So it comes as no surprise the action sequences in Extraction are top notch. Think John Wick, only instead of an unstoppable assassin you have an ex-SAS soldier in full military kit running around the streets of Bangladesh and instead of the camera being away from the action, the camera is thrust into the middle of it. In fact, the action in Extraction is so well done, it’s worth watching for one scene alone – the 12 minute “single take” action sequence involving TWO car chases, a foot chase, gun battles, knife battles, hand-to-hand combat AND of course – explosions. Lots and lots of explosions. It’s very impressive.
Having said that, all this fantastic action and violence comes at a cost – the story. After a while you start to question whether or not the character of Rake is really a hero. Sure he’s trying to save a child but he’s killing A LOT of people. Not every cop or soldier is a bad guy. They’re just doing their job to support their families and when the body count adds up, you start to question whether or not this kid is worth all the lives that are being destroyed to save him.
Despite the questionable morality of its story, Extraction is an impressive action epic that will keep action fanboys happy with its over-the-top stunts, energetic fight sequences and ridiculous body count. The strong acting performances from Hemsworth and Hooda have created memorable characters out of a sea of forgettable, two dimensional, muscle bound roles usually headlining the genre. With such a strong feature film debut from Sam Hargrave I look forward to seeing his future projects and predict he’ll continue to help reshape the action genre the same way the John Wick franchise has done.