Chris Hemsworth’s ‘Extraction 2’ burns out fast
Tyler Rake can fight, but the movie can't keep up the momentum.
Netflix has carved out a space bringing back genres that major studios don’t do anymore, such as the mid-budget thriller or the romantic-comedy. in 2020 it made a play for the dying art of the brutal action film with Extraction. The Chris Hemsworth vehicle — produced by the Russo Brothers (Avengers: Endgame) as part of their effort to both support other directors and fund thrillers and action films.
And it mostly worked, with stuntman-turned-director Sam Hargrave delivering equally smooth and brutal action throughout the movie. Narrative issues aside — Hemsworth’s lead character being the least interesting character in the film — Extraction worked due to solid pacing and strong fight scenes.
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This time Australian Special Air Service veteran-turned-mercenary Tyler Rake (Hemsworth) is back, somehow alive from massive wounds from the first film. After a slow-paced start recovering, he’s pulled back into the extraction work to rescue his ex-wife’s sister and her kids, who happen to be in a Georgian prison with their crime boss father, and soon the boss’s brother is chasing after them.
Trading Bangladesh for Georgia and Austria changes the sequel’s atmosphere and unfortunately leaves it looking somewhat flat, particularly a finale in an empty warehouse that feels small scale and direct-to-video. There’s also more attention to the other mercenaries Rake works with, but as with the family drama around Rake’s relatives, it is not particularly innovative. Rake has more to do this time around, but despite the more personal storyline, he is mostly just there. It’s not a knock on Hemsworth; the character is just flat, a vehicle for action. And that is where the film is at its best.
After all, this is not a film people watch for plot. Action wise, Hargrave has some real ambition. The first Extraction featured gun and fist fights through Dhaka, including a long-single take chase. Hargrave tops the first film’s oner with a 21-minute version (clearly several shots stitched together, but relatively seamless without losing momentum), taking audiences and Rake through a prison escape, riot and then gunfight on a train. It’s thrilling stuff but like the first film, Extraction 2 peaks here.
Eventually dramatic lulls lose that pacing and later fights, even creative ones inside an oddly standalone Austrian skyscraper, cannot match that energy. The fights here are not the gun fu heights of action that this year’s earlier action masterpiece John Wick: Chapter 4 delivered, but instead more of a gritty and brutal take on combat. And that mostly works; it’s rough and tumble. It just doesn’t quite have the suspense or tension the first movie had.
Still, much like the first film, Extraction 2 offers decent action distraction for two hours.