Stuntman turned director Sam Hargrave keeps the camera close to the action in “Extraction,” tight and right in the middle of the brawls and sprawl of Dhaka, Bangladesh and right in the face of his hero, Chris Hemsworth.
That ups the intensity of the fights, shows Hemsworth in his best man-in-action and feeds the crowded, claustrophobic feeling that fighting your way out of a part of the world known for dystopian over-crowding.
The script? Well, it’s from one of The Russo Brothers, who have become the Koch Brothers of action cinema — hostile takeover artists who get rich at our expense and make everything they touch worse. Middling Marvel installments shoved down our throats, generic story beats, and the dialogue in their movies? Wit never figures into them.
“Extraction” is a “Proof of Life” thriller about a soldier-turned-mercenary/”rescue-for-hire” Aussie named Tyler Rake.
“Sounds like a garden tool.” It is. And one figures in one of the fights. Shockingly.
An Indian drug lord’s kid (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) is nabbed from his private school/empty mansion life by a Bangladeshi drug lord. What’s that mean to Team Tyler.
“We’ve landed ‘the whale,'” his logistics organizer and manager (Golshifteh Farahani) says. They’ll go in, find the kid, shoot the people who have the kid, return the kid to his father’s aide (Randeep Hooda) and Big Bucks will turn up in their bank account.
They’ve got transport and drones, drivers and boat handlers, a sniper and Thor. What could go wrong?
Things do. When the bad guy (Priyanshu Painyuli) owns the police in Dhaka, and hires “the Goonies from Hell” (child soldiers) as backup, when the just-as-bad-guy’s minions don’t want to pay, getting out of a teeming city surrounded by rivers turns nigh on impossible.
We know this because the opening scene is Rake, bloodied and beaten up, fighting his way across a jam-packed bridge.
The cliches pile up like Bangladeshi bodies as we learn Tyler’s got a sad past.
“You’re hoping if you spin the chamber enough times, you’re gonna catch a bullet!”
The various bad guys will the soundtrack with Hindi and Bengali threats.
“You think I can’t hurt you from here (in prison)?”
Hiring child soldiers is a simple process. Show “the boss” your blood lust.
“I like this one. Find him a gun. Put his fingers to work.”
“Extraction” runs into the same problems any movie that’s on-the-run/fighting-your-way-out faces. It’s wearing, characters get shortchanged and the temptation to take absurd shortcuts in logic just to get us from point A to B is irresistible.
But Hooda and Hemsworth give fair value as physically matched-up foes. Hemsworth, who is at his very best in lighter fare, more than holds his own as his character is brooding as he punches, shoots, stabs, runs over — and yes, garden rakes — every army grunt, mob mug or tween thug that gets in his way.
It’s just not enough, and bringing in David Harbour as an old comrade in arms doesn’t help.
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use)
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Farahani and David Harbour.
Credits: Directed by Sam Hargrave, script by Joe Russo, based on the graphic novel “Cuidad.” A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:57 (10 minutes of credits)