While watching the movie Extraction 2 on Netflix, I didn’t feel much attachment to the characters portrayed onscreen. However, I did begin to sympathize with the film’s director, Sam Hargrave, who works hard to infuse some creativity into this otherwise dull movie. Hargrave, a seasoned stunt professional, also directed the first Extraction film that was released in 2020. Though I have seen the first movie twice, my memory of it is a blur of uninteresting headshots. Nonetheless, the sequel is an improvement from the first installment. The killings in the second movie are much more imaginative, even though the characters and plot still lack distinction.
The Extraction movies could have been different. Despite Chris Hemsworth’s undeniable charm and comedic timing, as seen in past roles such as Thor, Ghostbusters (2016), Vacation (2015), and Spiderhead (another Netflix production), the Extraction films seem determined to use him in an unimpressive manner. Playing Tyler Rake, the troubled Australian black-ops mercenary, Hemsworth’s character is portrayed as stoic, silent, and humorless. This is due to flashbacks that reveal his motivation to make up for abandoning his dying son. While the film establishes this motivation, it fails to make it resonate in a meaningful way, leaving Hemsworth with the task of staring off into space. As a result, the movie lacks emotional depth, which is essential for its core.
Although he possesses fighting and mobility skills, Extraction 2 skillfully employs its lead actor’s physical prowess, especially during a 20-minute continuous scene featuring a jailbreak, physical altercation, and pursuit, which is the movie’s climax. However, it is not actually a true single shot, as digital edits are evident within the camera pans and the darkness that passes through the frame. Nonetheless, this lengthy sequence also exposes the film’s flaws, as its inventiveness slowly transforms into boredom.
Let’s delve into this topic a bit. The structure of the scene is uncomplicated, similar to the rest of the movie. Rake has consented to assist in the rescue of a woman named Ketevan (portrayed by Tinatin Dalakishvili) and her two children from a Georgian prison. They are incarcerated together with her criminal husband, who desires the company of his family during his imprisonment. Initially, the shaky camera work as Rake and his charges navigate through the congested and complex prison amplifies their disorientation, and the speed intensifies as rival inmate groups emerge and attack our protagonists. Subsequently, we move onto a massive and congested prison-yard brawl involving various weapons such as axes, guns, knives, shovels, grenades, and a famous actor with a flaming arm. This segment is genuinely hilarious.
Unfortunately, it is a pity that the majority of individuals who will watch Extraction 2 will have to witness it from the comfort of their own homes, rather than the lively atmosphere of a movie theater. Despite this, the continuous one-shot sequence in the movie progresses to include a car chase, a train chase, and a helicopter chase, eventually leading to a point where the events onscreen become insignificant. It appears that the only objective of the filmmakers is to maintain this worn-out visual trick. By the time the numerous black cars are being obliterated by bazookas, the desperation behind the camera is palpable.
Single-take sequences that showcase technical prowess can be effective in certain contexts. For instance, Romain Gavras’s Athena, which was my favorite film of last year and possibly of the decade so far, incorporated a number of these so-called oners. However, in Athena, which was also produced by Netflix, these sequences served to amplify the exhilaration and release of the story’s central rebellion. They also expanded the film’s metaphor, transforming one banlieue uprising into a vision of a larger, more warlike conflict. In other words, Athena’s daring formal approach matched its ambitious themes. In Extraction 2, though, I failed to detect similar connections. While the film is undeniably impressive and skillfully executed, it lacks meaning and purpose.
Hargrave’s impressive direction and twisted imagination sometimes elevate the ordinary plot and characters, which were adapted from the 2014 graphic novel by Joe Russo, with his brother Anthony Russo and Ande Parks contributing to the screenplay. The film features some gruesome scenes, such as a man being impaled with a pitchfork and another having his face slammed into a furnace before his hand is torn apart. Additionally, a character’s head is crushed with a dumbbell, and a helicopter explodes in a dramatic fashion. Although the fight scene on a glass rooftop is only enjoyable for a brief period, one must savor the moments of excitement whenever possible.
Some action movies prioritize showcasing impressive stunts and explosive visuals over establishing a strong emotional connection with the audience. While Extraction 2 attempts to create a deeper emotional impact, it falls short of achieving this goal. However, it’s evident that the director, Hargrave, is more interested and skilled in creating over-the-top action scenes full of imaginative and brutal violence. It’s exciting to see what other projects Hargrave will create in the future, but the character of Tyler Rake is not as compelling.