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You didn’t think we’d seen the last of Tyler Rake, did you?
The black-op mercenary played by Chris Hemsworth was the hero of 2020 Extraction, one of Netflix’s most watched movies ever. So it’s hardly a surprise that the tough-as-nails macho character returns in the unimaginative title Extraction 2bringing together the Thor actor with director Sam Hargrave and screenwriter Joe Russo (co-director with brother Anthony in four MCU entries, including two avengers flicks) for another wildly over-the-top adventure based on the graphic novel by Andre Parks City.
Mute the dialogue, turn up the volume for the action.
Release date: Friday 16 June
Launch: Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Tornike Gogrichiani, Adam Bessa, Daniel Bernhardt, Tinatin Dalakishvili, Olga Kurylenko, Idris Elba
Director: Sam Gargrave
Screenwriter: Joe Russo
Rated R, 2 hours 2 minutes
Suffice it to say if you liked it Extraction, you’re going to have a blast with this one, which, in typical franchise fashion, works its ass off trying to outdo its predecessor. And it does, particularly in an “oner” action sequence designed to appear as if it were shot in a single take that runs for 21 minutes, or nearly double that of the first film. In fact, the filmmakers are so proud of their achievement that the film’s press notes are largely devoted to bragging about how they made it.
Their pride is well justified. The sequence, which includes a prison break riot, a multi-vehicle car chase, and a segment where Rake battles an army of assassins on a moving train that lands a helicopter (!), is a real astounding. Featuring dazzling stunts, fight choreography and largely practical effects, it is a master class in action filmmaking that would erupt in theaters of applause if the film were shown widely in theatres. Everyone involved, including Hargrave, who often did the shooting himself in dangerous conditions, deserves a bonus. Forget Extraction 3: Turn the next installment into a feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary about this.
Unfortunately, there’s another 90 minutes or so of the movie to get through, which aren’t quite as thrilling. Yes, there are numerous other thrilling action sequences, including a stunner involving a multi-pronged attack on a skyscraper (with one episode where Rake daringly saves a member of his team who is about to slip unconscious from a sloping roof ). But in terms of dialogue and character development, the sequel leaves a lot to be desired, even as it attempts to fill in some of the emotional gaps in its central character, who makes Clint Eastwood’s The Man With No Name seem like a chatterbox.
The plot is sparse. Rake, still recovering from serious injuries from the first film, is approached by a mysterious figure (Idris Elba, suave as usual) who tells him he is a friend of Rake’s ex-wife (Olga Kurylenko). The boy wants to hire him for a mission to rescue the family of a Georgian gangster who had them imprisoned in his own fortress-like prison (the prison system in that country is clearly very different from ours).
Rake recruits two of his former team members from the last adventure, brothers Nik (Golshifteh Farahani) and Yaz (Adam Bessa) to join him for the dangerous assignment, which turns out to be more complicated than expected when the gangster is killed during the prison break and his equally evil brother (Tornike Gogrichiani) swears revenge. Further complicating matters is the fact that the gangster’s teenage son (Andro Japaridze) finds his loyalties torn between his mother (Tinatin Dalakishvili) and his birthright crime family. It goes without saying that not all of the characters survive the carnage that ensues. Except (no spoiler) Rake, because as far as Netflix is concerned, he’s not going anywhere.
Unfortunately, he’s not a very compelling character, despite Hemsworth’s charisma and obvious physical qualifications. For the next installment, let’s hope they bring back Elba, who, in just a few minutes of screen time, manages to bring the fun the film is so desperately missing. It’s not that his lines are particularly brilliant—”I have to say you don’t live up to the hype,” says an unimpressed Alcott after meeting the battered Rake—but rather the way he delivers them. Can we get that James Bond petition going again?