dir: Sam Hargrave
Instead of doing something, I dunno, meaningful, like acknowledging the traditional owners of the land upon which I pontificate (sovereignty never having been ceded), instead I’d rather bring us together and acknowledge that Extraction is a terrible name for a movie and even worse for some kind of proposed franchise. The Extraction franchise? Ew. Nine out of ten dentists agree that “extractions” are procedures that even they don’t like performing, but they’re happy to accept the money for them anyway.
How do I know it’s a franchise? Because against all logic or expectations, by the end of the flick they clearly imply there’s going to be more of these, and they brought in Idris Elba in a small and strange cameo role as some mysterious rep of some agency or group that needs lead hero Tyler Rake’s extraction skills to extract people from various difficult places like the infected teeth that they are.
Tyler Rake is a hell of a name for an extractor. Thankfully he’s played by Australia’s Own Chris Hemsworth. Hemsworth is the Mid Chris. Chris Pine is currently the Good Chris. Chris Pratt is the Bad Chris and Hemsworth is the medium one. I don’t make the rules, I just read a lot of trash mags in doctor’s waiting rooms.
Always waiting. Hemsworth can be charming or funny in other roles. He very much isn’t here. Here he just has to kill all the people that are attacking him, for two hours, and to feel bad about his son dying of cancer.
You might think “but wasn’t that the plot of the first Extraction? Yes, but this time he’s not killing all of Bangladesh to save a drug dealer’s son; he’s killing half of Georgia and then Austria, to save some other criminal’s family (from the criminal’s crime family).
You also may be thinking “um, didn’t the main character get killed at the end of Extraction?” Someone clearly didn’t sit through the credits.
Who would dare leave franchise opportunities on the table by allowing such a charmless character to die?
Look, the Australian SAS need all the positive press they can get at the moment. Just recently their poster boy for courageous bravery was revealed to be a psychopathic liar, bully and murderer. So they need a positive example for recruitment purposes.
Tyler Rake is the embodiment of a highly trained, highly skilled guy who can kill a thousand people, get stabbed, shot and run over a dozen times and still keep ticking along. He’s less an advertisement for the efficacy of the SAS’s training regime, and more just an Australian John Wick killing everyone who comes after him.
For all of that, we are at first greeted with the difficult spectacle of Tyler being as weak as a kitten and at death’s door after the excitement of the first flick. His recovery is long and difficult, and he doesn’t actually really seem glad that he didn’t bite the big one. He doesn’t seem grateful to his former business partner and companion in arms Nik (the always great Golshifteh Farahani) for making sure he didn’t die in or next to a Bangladeshi river, or for forcing him down the path of recovery.
And once his gruelling recovery of his strength and balance, and magnificent god-like physique has occurred, well, what’s he meant to do now? He doesn’t want to be alive anyway. He wanted to die at the end of the last movie, we get the feeling, because… The shame of having abandoned his dying child pursues him into the next film as well, so we clearly get the impression that Tyler Rake only really operates well when he has someone he wants to save, and that he’ll pretty much die at the end unless something extraordinary happens. That’s the true way of the warrior, or so these movies would have us believe – they can only truly be successful if they give up any chance of living, and are thus free to kill everyone in the meantime.
So now, without purpose, someone has to appear out of fucking nowhere to convince Tyler to get back into the game and kill people again for shits and giggles and presumably money.
Of course it helps somehow to give him a reason to live in the form of extracting his ex-wife’s sister and kids from a Georgian prison. You read that right, however garbled it might have sounded – it’s the sister of the woman who hates him for abandoning their dying kid.
What better way to get back at your ex-wife than by breaking her sister out of a prison?
I mean, wait, what?
Getting back at your ex, or proving to them that you’re not a complete loser, is a mainstay of plots in a lot of action films, a lot of films full stop. People thought Taken was about a father with a unique set of skills killing a bunch of crims in order to save his daughter from sex trafficking / slavery – they’re totally wrong.
The whole point of Taken was to prove to his ex-wife that she was wrong to leave him in the first place, since her loser of a new (stable, supportive, present, loving) husband couldn’t possibly save her daughter, could he?
The whole point of the Die Hard, Night at the Museum and Ant-Man movies is that Divorced Dad is not a complete loser and can save the day in the end, and would have done it sooner if only ex-wife hadn’t left him. At every stage that ex-wife should be played by Bonnie Bedelia or Judy Greer.
Once you see it, you can’t stop seeing it. And if you think it’s not the governing dynamic in the vast majority of films, try and tell me the name of the last flick you saw where an ex-wife has to kill a thousand people in order to show her ex-husband she’s not a complete fuck up.
Rake leaps at the chance to save his sister-in-law and her two kids. Why are they in a jail in Georgia? That’s Georgia the former / current Soviet puppet state, not Georgia the Southern American state known for its barbecue and its tasty, moreish racism.
Well, the ex-sister-in-law’s husband is powerful enough such that the authorities will “allow” him to have his family in there with him, but not so powerful that he can’t just get out of jail, even though he has a private army at his disposal.
I’m not saying it makes sense, because none of any of these flicks make sense, but this is the setup. Rake has to break into a jail, and break out a woman and her two kids. And not only will all the inmates try to kill him and his team, which includes Nik, but all the guards will try to kill them too.
This first sequence of, let’s say, 20 minutes is insane, and made to look like one long sequence with no edits. It’s a trick but I’m not complaining. There are long sequences, so long, of unstopping seeming action that you wonder how any of it could have been done without killing people. It doesn’t let up even when they get out of the prison (spoilers!) and, I feel dumber just typing this, escape as planned on a train.
There are a lot of issues with trying to escape on a train. Planes and automobiles, while there are restrictions on where they can go, there’s a certain flexibility there. Trains? Not so much. It’s comparatively easy to stop a train. Your opponents, your enemies, your life obstacles, they pretty much will be able to figure out where your train is going to go. I’m sure people might have brought up objections as they were making it, and someone just said “shut the fuck up and make the train bit look violent and explode-y!” and that’s exactly what they did. Rake mows down legions of goons on the train, as does Nik as well, all with the goal of saving people, saving anyone, doing anything in fact other than confronting his emotions.
This monolith, this monument of chiselled muscle and rock can kill so many people, can endure almost anything, but it’s only towards the end where he allows himself to feel anything about what a tremendous piece of shit he was for abandoning his dying child, not that his presence would have made a difference, and there’s a tear, a single tear that cascades down those sculpted cheeks when he’s allowed to acknowledge that.
Maybe he wasn’t ready for therapy at the start. Maybe there was no way he could have avoided killing a thousand people in order to encourage his seemingly unforgiving ex-wife (Olga Kurylenko) to give him the absolution he so desperately craves. Maybe this is all just a set up for a third film.
All I know is that the world in which this action extravaganza occurs in is not like the ones of the Wick movies. Cops exist. If you get too wounded, but kill all the baddies, the cops arrest you for, I dunno, killing a thousand people.
When you think about it, except for the States, no-one else seems to think it’s okay to go around as a private army and wield a tremendous arsenal of weaponry, even if you’re doing it for “good” reasons. There’s probably some laws against it, not sure.
I mean, if he didn’t get into legal trouble for killing half of Bangladesh, why would they arrest him for killing half of Georgia and Austria? Bloody European Union. No wonder Brexit had to happen.
The end of this flick is jawdropping in its shameless set up of a next flick, where neither Tyler Rake nor Nik Khan, both serving 400 year sentences for killing so many goddamn people, have to worry about that long term, and don’t have to worry about jail because…
Because Idris Elba is somehow going to ensure that the Extraction franchise is going to crossover with the Fast & the Furious franchises, because why not.
Wouldn’t that be great (no it would not). But as far as almost mindless straight-ahead relentless action vehicles, these goofy flicks are top notch violent bullshit. It doesn’t have the set piece mastery of the last Wick flick, but it also doesn’t go for three fucking hours, nor does it have fifteen minutes of Chris Hemsworth falling down some goddamn steps. At 2 hours this is perfect (in terms of length), and lacking the artistry makes up for it with momentum and relentless energy.
7 reasons why this is better than the first flick only by virtue of being shorter out of 10
“Doesn't really matter what I think. People pay me to do things they can't.” – that’s capitalism for you - Extraction 2.