Saturday 6 February 2021

Movie Review: Extraction (2020)

A superlative action movie, Extraction surpasses genre expectations and delivers a non-stop thrill ride infused with on-location artistry.

In India, Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) is the young son of jailed drug lord Mahajan (Pankaj Tripathi). Ovi is kidnapped by goons working for rival mobster Amir (Priyanshu Painyuli) and held for ransom in Dhaka, Bangladesh. From behind bars Mahajan pressures his ally Saju (Randeep Hooda) to mount a rescue.

Saju is short of money but hires the mercenary team led by Australian special forces veteran Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) and his business partner Nik (Golshifteh Farahani). Tyler overpowers Amir's men and grabs Ovi, but when hidden agendas are revealed, what started as a straightforward extraction quickly runs into major problems.

The plot is essentially in the one-word title, but Extraction constructs a magnificent experience upon the simple premise. Director Sam Hargrave, the stunt coordinator for many Marvel films, creates an exhilarating, hard-hitting and violent mercenary adventure, drawing strength from chaotic street locations (filmed in India and Thailand) and camerawork wizardry. 

The entire running length of 117 minutes is captivating, the energy level rarely flagging. But a 12 minute single-shot sequence bookended by two explosions is simply superb. Meticulously executed, the breathtaking achievement features a wild car chase, door-to-door search, bone jarring close quarters combat, several astounding stunt jumps, and a truck pursuit. Hargrave hides the seams with mezmerizing camera work celebrating fluidity, the action choreographed with balletic elegance devoted to visual continuity.

On either side of this highlight is a taut thriller, the Joe Russo script tapping a prosperous rhythm by alternating scenes of urban combat with background depth. In the middle of both the flying bullets and the self-reflection pauses is star Chris Hemsworth. He has rarely been better, here injecting a stock character with a large dose of humanity and passion to create a throbbing heart. Tyler's backstory is rudimentary, but he does develop a meaningful bond with Ovi.

Several other characters are also rounded beyond genre expectations. Saju has a family to protect, and Amir gets several scenes to highlight his ruthlessness and ability to inspire the next generation, the introduction of a protege flagging susceptibility caused by impoverishment. David Harbour gets a small role as another mercenary called into the arena.

With spirit and ingenuity, Extraction polishes familiar elements into elegant brilliance.

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