Ever since its inception, the US branch of Netflix has streamed one good thing and then tried to replicate its success in the most shallow and cheap ways possible. They did Stranger Things and they’ve been greenlighting supernatural shows left, right, and center that just aren’t that good. They did Sex Education and then threw up a bunch of teen comedies that just weren’t up to the mark. As for the action genre, Extraction set the standard for action films, and then they gave us stuff like Red Notice, Army of Thieves, and Kate. Even the Russo Brothers’ The Gray Man failed to clear the bar, despite its massive budget and star power. Thankfully, Sam Hargrave is back to show how it’s done with Extraction 2.
Extraction 2 pretty much starts where the first film ended. Tyler Rake rescues Ovi. He is on the bridge. He has been shot, and he’s severely injured. He takes a tumble and falls into the river. Extraction did hint at Tyler meeting Ovi again. But that’s not where the narrative goes. After pulling Rake from the river, he’s flown off to a hospital in Dubai, where he recuperates under the watchful eyes of the doctors and the siblings Nik and Yaz. When Rake regains consciousness and is able to walk again (with the help of braces and sticks), he’s taken to a remote cabin in Austria, where he begins another chapter of his life with his dog and his chickens. That’s when Alcott shows up at his doorstep with a mission to extract Mia’s (Rake’s ex-wife’s) sister, Ketevan, and her children, Sandro and Nina, from the bowels of the Tkachiri Prison in Georgia. Since things are personal, Rake accepts the offer, thereby putting him in the crosshairs of mob bosses Zurab and Davit Radiani.
It was a little evident in Extraction that Tyler Rake was doing what he was doing because he had failed at saving his own son. Extraction 2 doubles down on that aspect of his character as we learn that Rake thinks saving someone who can technically be saved is more productive than waiting for someone to die. It’s a flawed point of view, and the journey that Rake goes on with Nik, Yaz, Ketevan, Sandro, and Nina forces him to change his perspective. Add to that the fact that he does all this with his found family as well as his extended family, and you have a serviceable plot with some thematic weight to help you sail from one action scene to another. I mean, Joe Russo isn’t gunning for any screenwriting awards, but the dialogue and the character work are good enough to make you care for the protagonists when they’re being tormented by the villains. In fact, the dynamic between Rake, Nik, and Yaz is so good that I would’ve loved to see more scenes of them annoying one another or a flashback of how they became such tight friends.
That said, I am sure next to no one is going to tune into Extraction 2 for the plot. All we want is some good old action, and there’s plenty of it. Well, to be specific, there are exactly three massive set pieces that are relentless, dynamic, and full of some of the amazing stunt work, SFX, VFX, and CGI. Without giving away any specifics, the first sequence feels like an amalgamation of the prison scenes from Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Raid 2, coupled with the train fights from Carter and Pathaan. The second sequence is definitely inspired by The Raid: Redemption and, of course, Die Hard. The final bit set inside a church is reminiscent of The Killer, War, Face/Off, John Wick, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. I hope this doesn’t give the impression that Hargrave and his team of immensely talented individuals have just ripped off scenes. Their signature brand of brutality and mayhem is incredibly palpable. The Georgia escape is undoubtedly the film’s crown jewel. But, given how the one in the unnaturally tall building had me biting my nails and hooting and howling because of its inventive use of weights and heights, it’s my favorite. And, don’t worry, there’s a good moment involving a rake.
When it comes to the performances, there’s not a bad apple to be found here. Golshifteh Farahani exudes charisma when she isn’t partaking in action and utter ferocity with her guns and knives. The same can be said about Adam Bessa, who is quickly becoming a familiar face in the action genre with Mosul, Hanna, and now this. Tornike Gogrichiani and Tornike Bziava don’t have a lot of screen time (or maybe not enough to make them memorable), but they totally get into the skins of their respective characters. Tinatin Dalakishvili, Andro Japaridze, Mariami Kovziashvili, and Marta Kovziashvili’s performances have a constant air of anxiety, which makes sense due to the situations that their characters have to endure. But all four of them (with real life twins Mariami and Marta playing the character of Nina) manage to instill some form of humanity in them. Out of all of Zurab’s talented henchmen, I think the most recognizable face is that of Daniel Bernhardt, who is hilariously and aptly named Konstantine. He gets to give Rake a run for his money, but I think he deserved some more scene-stealing moments. Idris Elba and Olga Kurylenko’s presence can only be defined as extended cameos, and they’re fine. But let’s put all of them on one side and talk about Chris Hemsworth.
Hemsworth has been in business since the early 2000s. He became a household name when he took on the role of Thor. And although a lot of studios tried to turn him into a four-quadrant action star, he truly shone in gritty and dark films like Rush, Blackhat, and In the Heart of the Sea. Sadly, due to the success of the Marvel films, he ended up selling those soulless products, which did next to nothing to highlight his skills and steered him away from meaty roles. However, Hemsworth’s union with Sam Hargrave (who has a cheeky cameo beside a rake and in a grave) has been a match made in action heaven. Hargrave knows how to use his physique. He knows how to use his beauty. He knows how to use his comedic timing. Basically, Hargrave knows that Hemsworth is tailor-made to be a raw, hunky, unapologetic, R-rated action hero, and he’s pushing him to be exactly that. I am glad that they’ve worked on two brilliant movies. Although there’s a sequel tease in Extraction 2, going by Hemsworth’s health woes, I don’t know how many more adventures he’ll be able to go on with Hargrave. But I’ll always be glad that they collaborated on these two films and broadened the horizons of American action.
In conclusion, although the trailers didn’t really impress me, I ended up loving Extraction 2. I am jealous of all those people who got to watch it on the big screen. That doesn’t mean that the small screen diminished the viewing experience because the moments of bone-crushing, blood-gushing violence were visceral enough to make me punch the air multiple times. Much like the first film, I am sure that the sequel will spark yet another conversation about faux one-take sequences being used as a gimmick versus being used as a narrative tool. As Hargrave is someone who has been crafting fight sequences since some of us weren’t even teens, I think he’s aware of this critique and doesn’t care. He just wants to make dope-looking set pieces that can rival non-American Netflix actioners like The Night Comes For Us, Mother’s Day, The Lost Bullet movies, Furie, Furies, AKA, Kill Boksoon, and The Big Four. And you know what? More power to him. So, go and watch Extraction 2 as soon as possible, form your opinion, and let us know what you think of it.