sun 29/11/2020

Extraction, Netflix review - mercenary mayhem | reviews, news & interviews

Extraction, Netflix review - mercenary mayhem

Extraction, Netflix review - mercenary mayhem

Emotion and action awkwardly collide as Chris Hemsworth bulldozes through Bangladesh

The shootist: Chris Hemsworth finds his range as Tyler Rake

This is what Avengers: Infinity War/Endgame co-creator Joe Russo and his Thor, Chris Hemsworth, did next.

This is what Avengers: Infinity War/Endgame co-creator Joe Russo and his Thor, Chris Hemsworth, did next. It’s a gritty solo project after the Avengers band broke up, attempting to recreate the lean ethos of a Steve McQueen action pic in contemporary Bangladesh.

Tyler Rake (Hemsworth) is a burnt-out, maybe suicidal mercenary, haunted by his dead son, and happiest drunkenly lazing with mates in his (and Hemsworth’s) native Oz. When an assignment to retrieve an Indian drug dealer’s kidnapped son from a Dhaka rival goes disastrously wrong, he has to extract the boy past a city full of corrupt cops.

Hemsworth abandons Thor’s comic pomposity for sombre brooding, dovetailing with the eager innocence of his teenage charge, Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal, pictured below right). His hulking, increasingly battered physicality meanwhile bulldozes through the army of obstacles put in his way by dapper Dhaka drug lord Amir (Priyanshu Painyuli), and Saju (Randeep Hooda, pictured bottom right), the relentless henchman of Ovi’s unscrupulous dad. Debut director Sam Hargrave’s apprenticeship as Avengers and Atomic Blonde stunt coordinator ensures bone-crunching, eyeball-puncturing choreography in lengthy, complex action scenes, though the visceral fury of Charlize Theron’s work in the latter film is replaced by more obviously balletic mayhem.

Rake (Chris Hemsworth) and Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) in ExtractionThe regular, tightly wound double-crosses which characterised screenwriter Russo’s Captain America films inject sympathy for Rake and Ovi’s predicament. Though India’s Ahmedabad and Thailand largely stand in for Dhaka, Extraction’s Asian backdrop is fully exploited, as fights snake around courtyard balconies and are interrupted by rickshaws. A strong Indian cast also adds freshness in a Hollywood context. Hooda’s troubled henchman, his handsome face a mask of blood and hooded like a wicked fairy tale crone by the end, matches Hemsworth. Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, so good in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, is another of the counterintuitive indie choices which spice up Marvel’s films as a fine-boned, rocket launcher-toting gun-runner. Rake’s casual killing of half of Dhaka’s police force wouldn’t, though, be so easily countenanced were they the NYPD.

Rake (Chris Hemsworth) and Saju (Randeep Hooda) in ExtractionOvi is quick to point out the absurdity of Tyler Rake’s name, claiming he looks more like a “a Brad”. Some hope. The Avengers’ success has been built on established, oddball stars (Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, latterly Brie Larson), and lunks with hidden depth. The post-Endgame diaspora suggests a Harry Potter­-like future for its lynchpins, with interesting character work replacing box office triumph.

More than Brad Pitt, Hemsworth resembles the post-Bond Pierce Brosnan, a charming looker just a bit better and cleverer than most of his roles. His masculine power and ease can carry most films to an extent, and in a quiet interrogation of Rake by Ovi, revealing Afghanistan war wounds and a latent heroism, both actors find their range. “I’ll getcha home, mate,” Rake decides, with authentically Australian resolve.

The Russo Cinematic Universe isn’t, though, home to dramatic verities, but to heightened behaviour filtered through previous films and comics, and the signposted moment of catharsis comes too late. Attempts to splice Rake’s soulful sorrow with the carnage rarely work, in a film which largely operates in a world as unreal as Asgard. Only when the muscular momentum climaxes on a body-strewn bridge do emotion and action merge. Here, you finally glimpse The Getaway’s McQueen and The Gauntlet’s Clint through the cordite.

Attempts to splice Rake’s soulful sorrow with the carnage rarely work, in a film largely as unreal as Asgard

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters