Who knew that Dhaka was the Medellin of south Asia? That’s what first-time director Sam Hargrave would like to have audiences believe as he presents the overcrowded city under the haze of an amber filter. Maybe the comparison to Medellin isn’t his fault though. His new Netflix movie, EXTRACTION, is based on the graphic novel, Ciudad, by Ande Parks and Joe & Anthony Russo – the very same Russos who directed four films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe including its biggest one to date, AVENGERS: ENDGAME, and who produced this film. The book’s title is taken from Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este, which sits on the border with Brazil and is the largest city in the Triple Frontier region of South America, an area that has quite the reputation for smuggling, cocaine trafficking, money laundering and general lawlessness. Joe has now taken their story and moved the action to Bangladesh, presumably to be a more plausible fit for the film’s star and AVENGERS pal, Chris Hemsworth (Thor). Here, Hemsworth plays Tyler Rake, a former Australian Air Service Regiment soldier-turned-black-market mercenary with a death wish. When Ovi Mahajan Jr. (Indian actor Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of Indian crime boss Ovi Mahajan Sr. (Pankaj Tripathi) – I’ve never heard of Indians following that naming custom but maybe some do now – gets kidnapped and is held for ransom by Amir Asif, Ovi Sr’s Bangladeshi counterpart, Ovi Sr’s right-hand man, Saju (Randeep Hooda), reaches out to Tyler’s handler, Nik Khan (Golshifteh Farahani, EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS; PATERSON), to get the boy back… for a hefty fee, of course. Tyler immediately heads for Dhaka where he rescues the boy without so much as breaking into a sweat but then the mission goes pear-shaped very quickly. It seems that everyone in Dhaka is after Tyler and now he has to rely on all his training and experience to get the boy safely out of the country and back to Mumbai.
EXTRACTION is a bit of mixed bag. The film is full of highly choreographed action scenes, which is not surprising given that Hargrave was the stunt coordinator on CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and AVENGERS: ENDGAME and he was the stunt double for a number of Hollywood stars. This is where the film is the most entertaining and there are long and elaborate fight sequences that look like they’ve been shot in one continuous take. These days, thanks to technology, it’s hard to tell but let’s give Hargrave the benefit of the doubt. That being said, however, EXTRACTION is not in the same league as JOHN WICK when it comes to action and choreography, as much as Hargraves and Russo would probably like it to be so. The body count comes pretty close though, as Tyler single-handedly takes down the Dhaka police force, the Bangladeshi army and Asif’s private militia, all in under 90 minutes. Unfortunately, where the film falters is its script, which absolutely makes no sense whatsoever. No one goes into a film like this expecting great writing but this plot has more holes in it than a hunk of Swiss cheese. And speaking of cheese, EXTRACTION has its tongue in its cheek far more than it deserves to be. Its numerous clichés and meta references (and I won’t reveal what they are) either fall flat or are completely underplayed.
Is this the start of a new franchise much like JOHN WICK? The possibility of having more Tyler Rake adventures is definitely there as the film’s closing shot alludes to. If it is, I hope Nik will have a bigger role because she’s a far more interesting character than Tyler is. I hope, too, that the writing will be better than this.
EXTRACTION is currently playing on Netflix. Whether you should watch it or not depends upon how bored you are.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, May 1st, 8:30 am HK time!
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