Action movies are a genre that have their own internal language. The look and feel of them are self-referential to some degree in order to conform with what an audience seems to think is modern at that moment. It’s a delicate balancing act to both cultivate that familiarity yet still be cutting edge in the eyes of those watching.

Extraction is an action movie that hits just enough of that sweet spot between familiarity and ingenuity to be satisfying. The movie wears its influences like a quality pair of off-brand sunglasses — you know they ain’t Oakleys but they sure as hell look like them and in this case that’s more than enough.

Marvel Studios veterans Joe Russo and Sam Hargrave deserve much of the credit as the engineers of the slick aesthetics of this movie. Russo, writer for Extraction, directed the last two Avengers movies along with his brother while Hargrave coordinated much of the action sequences in movies The Russo brothers were involved in.

Their influence certainly shows because every one of the action sequences is shot and choreographed to perfection. The fighting is reminiscent of John Wick in both intimacy and intensity with gun fights taking place in close quarters and some bad guys going down in brutal fashion. The centerpiece is one particularly long take (12 minutes) that is just breathtaking to watch.

In a similar way that the fighting in this movie has shades of John Wick, the camera takes its cues from video games like Uncharted and Call of Duty. Detached from real-world physics, the camera shakes as it follows the main character Tyler Rake through narrow corridors and tumbles right along with him as he crashes through a window. It also shows up in places it has no business being, like the hood of a car. The impact of this is a phrenetic pace that makes watching this movie akin to a runaway freight train perpetually on the edge of tumbling off the tracks.

These unique angles combined with the action elevates this movie to level of any AAA movie you’d see there. Nobody would bat an eye if this were a tent pole movie released in theaters nationwide, but the fact that it delivers this quality on a streaming service makes this movie a surprising gem. 

There is a great deal of star power both domestic and international in this movie and the quality acting combined with the razor sharp cinematography gives this movie a sheen of professionalism worthy of the big screen. It’s a shame that this is a Netflix only release, but with COVID putting a halt to all movie going Extraction is a boon for all of us stuck at home

As far as the star power, Chris Hemsworth is a good place to start. He casts aside the dad-bod Thor we saw from Avengers: End Game for the tank of a man that is Rake in Extraction. He plays the titular soldier with a dark past working for a mercenary team that specializes in extracting hostages. When the team is sent to India to extract the son of a major local drug lord, of course things go to hell quickly.

Hemsworth handles both the soft and hard parts of his role well. He moves and fights like the soldier he is supposed to be dispatching people left and right with the type of precision familiar to anybody that has played a video game like Call of Duty. He also plays the softer moments well, displaying the appropriate awkwardness of a soldier not used to opening up about his past. It helps that Rudhraksh Jaiswal, the young actor who plays the kidnapping victim Ovi Mejan, delivers a good performance. It helps that the writers gave him something to work with aside from being a scared kid. He plays a teen scarred by his harsh upbringing under a mob boss, but is surprisingly lucid and accepting of his circumstances. The bond between Mejan and Rake serves as an important counterpoint to the brutal violence that makes up most of this movie.

The other person to mention Randeep Hooda, an accomplished Bollywood actor in his own right, matches Hemsworth’s physicality as the main antagonist Saju. They are equals as soldiers matching each other in some brutal fight scenes. In one fight each actor takes turns getting hit by a car and still somehow manage to punch the crap out of each other.

The one knock on this movie is that it isn’t particularly groundbreaking within its genre. Perhaps John Wick did it better or video games did it first, but innovation doesn’t make a good film — skill and craftsmanship does. The attention to detail paid to the cinematography and the action are evident and the acting more than good enough for a genre film like this one to earn a watch from anyone looking to sit down for a good spectacle.

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