In the Netflix movie Extraction, Chris Hemsworth plays a highly skilled mercenary named Tyler Rake. About 20 minutes into the film, he actually kills a guy with a rake. You'd think this absurdity might inspire a moment of levity, but no. There is no room for anything remotely diverting or even human in this bleak, bloody, and barbaric motion picture. The only thing on its mind is finding as many ways to bash skulls, slice arteries, and crunch bones. Athletic though it may be, when this picture isn't grotesque, it's an absolute bore.
Written by Joe Russo (of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Russo Brothers), Extraction is the first film by stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave. And, yes, absolutely, the choreography is quite impressive. Enormous musclemen all hit their marks, mime tearing the snot out of one another, flinch when the blood squibs burst, and make way for the ceaselessly roaming camera. There are a few extended chase scenes in which movie magic gives the impression of it being one heroically epic take. The sought-after aesthetic is that of video-game strafing shooters, and it is dutifully achieved, especially when vehicles inexplicably appear from out of frame to ram into villains that come close to putting our heroes in harm's way. From a technical point of view, again, the word "impressive" comes to mind.
But in terms of drama it is a failure.
Extraction's bare minimum plot has all the smudges of a fourth-generation xerox. Rake is the best mercenary there is, but he's hiding out in Australia, nursing some sort of dark pain we only glimpse in visions that anyone who has ever seen a movie before before can easily interpret. One day, his manager — I guess you'd call her that — swoops in on her helicopter with a job offer. (She's played by the marvelous Golshifteh Farahani, and I hope she's been paid out the wazoo for this thankless role.) A drug dealer's son in Mumbai was kidnapped by his rival across the India-Bangladesh border in Dhaka. They have X amount of days to find the boy and bring him to safety for big bucks.
Maybe I spaced out for a second and missed something, but the team (and, yeah, there's the person at the laptop, another who's "got eyes on you" etc., etc.) aren't in Dhaka for longer than five minutes before they've found the kid. Easy, right? No, of course not, there's been a double-cross and now Rake has to kill his way to safety.
And kill he does. Endless high-power rifle shots directly to the face, with the sound of loud watermelon squishes on the soundtrack. A dab of unexpected violence in a movie now and then can be used to great effect, but when that's all you've got it quickly grows tiresome and then, eventually, revolting.
What's more, Chris Hemsworth (lovable Thor!) ends up brutally murdering a phalanx of cops on the beat with the bad luck of being in his way. Sure, the commander of the force may be on the take, but the rank and file are just trying to feed their families. Not cool!
Eventually, there's five minutes to catch your breath, where, after an hour of Killbot Hemsworth, Extraction tries to shoehorn a sympathetic backstory in the story. It's a joke. Earlier we saw him take another man's life by smashing the side of a table into his jawline, now we're to believe he's a softie?
But the movie hopes that getting to know Rake's pain will raise the stakes a little, such that the big finish can get away with a laughable spate of slo-mo shots set to a ripoff of the Inception score. Neither Hemsworth's acting, Hargrave's direction, nor Russo's script have the chops to pull this off.
I hate to be a stick in the mud, and maybe your tolerance for close-range gunshots turning foreheads into hamburger is higher than mine, but this type of thing feels better suited for the PS4 than the cinema.
TV Guide Rating: 2/5
Extraction is now on Netflix.