Newton Thomas Sigel is in my opinion a very talented cinematographer. He lent a unique look and creative eye to the otherwise by the numbers Bohemian Rhapsody, and staged some memorable images like the crane down newspaper shot in Superman Returns or Jean Grey parting the waters in X2: X-Men United. Yet he is not immune to the amateur film tactic of throwing a Sepia filter on a camera to capture India. The fights are above average in Extraction (using up my Inception sequel title idea) and for a rare moment the movie manages to stitch together a 15 minute sequence that is undoubtedly and purposefully the highlight of the film: a killer combo of fights, car chases and staircase shootouts similar to the one in Atomic Blonde but less masked and way over the top. Thankfully Sigel completes his mission delivering the action with a clear enough eye but just about every other aspect of Extraction is dropped once the main objective is complete.
Chris Hemsworth is an okay actor who was exceptionally good in Rush, and it’s a fun game to play while watching to argue which of his family (likely him) is the best actor, with his younger brother Liam having just as good taste in material (The Hunger Games) while being far less convincing [currently on Quibi’s The Most Dangerous Game]. His older brother on the other hand hasn’t shown much yet on Westworld, but there’s always hope since he’s the only one of the three to be trained for acting. In the film Chris is playing a cold blooded ex-veteran with a haunted past. Echoing probably every late western ever I find the film most resembles the last Richard Donner film 16 Blocks (2006) as the plot is similar. Get subject from A to B, it’s not as easy as expected, encounter resistance against limited resources, opponent turned ally, you get the picture.
Written By Joe Russo whose last writing gig was the zany looking Welcome to Collinwood, the movie is being promoted by Netflix off the writer producers success with Hemsworth on the high grossing Avengers: Endgame. In all areas except combat; script, acting, cinematography, Extraction falls incredibly short of this bar, but its okay and fun to be unambitious. In the same way Den of Thieves and the Russo’s much more professionally produced Avengers adjacent 21 Bridges (watch that instead) were lower rent clones of 90’s action films, this movie operates in similar rip-off territory but with a lot less flare.
That is not to say the characters don’t have flare. Hemsworth is all business so the movie smartly in both screenwriting and culturally sensitive terms gives him a counterpart with the same mission: extract a kidnapped drug dealers son alive. His plot had me wishing he was the centre of the film with Hemsworth the opponent which could extract some greater yet still easy economic subtext out of the film. I like my action movies, unless they are technically brilliant with a little meat on the bone. Minor spoiler alert warning— Stranger Things co-star David Harbour shows up surprisingly as the perfect beginning of the second half ringer to do a few scenes of the ‘I was a good cop once’ routine he plays increasingly hammy on Stranger Things and more emotionally in The Equalizer. My favourite performance of his is still the creepy as f*** human in A Walk Among The Tombstones. He works. Minor spoiler ends–
Overall I cannot exactly recommend this film as I do not come away with any reason to cite that this is a good movie, but I can say the fights are good, Chris Hemsworth is not terrible (athletic without exactly being physically intimidating), and though its stitched together like a YouTube amateur film, the directorial debut of Avengers stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave, is not bad in these uncertain times if you know what mission you’re accepting. [Sidenote: These are the worst mercenary extractors ever! Wanton damage galore!]
Rating: 66/100 (which is the same grade I gave Mandy, so not so bad company)