Saturday, May 18, 2024

“EXTRACTION 2”

THE STORY – Back from the brink of death, commando Tyler Rake embarks on a dangerous mission to save a ruthless gangster’s imprisoned family.

THE CAST – Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Adam Bessa, Olga Kurylenko, Daniel Bernhardt, Tinatin Dalakishvili & Idris Elba

THE TEAM – Sam Hargrave (Director) & Joe Russo (Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 122 Minutes


When “Extraction” landed on Netflix at the beginning of the pandemic, it was met with a mild reception, with most of the praise directed toward its action sequences. Many felt leading man Chris Hemsworth had found himself a new franchise outside of playing “Thor” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but all that became somewhat uncertain when his character in returning director Sam Hargrave’s feature directorial debut, Tyler Rake, was shot to death and fell off a bridge. Now, three years later, Hargrave and Hemsworth are back with “Extraction 2” as Tyler Rake is licking his wounds, ready to accept another mission, one that is bigger, more daring, bloodier, and more brutal than what came before. It does exactly what a good sequel should do, improve upon the original while upping the ante and raising the stakes.

As mentioned before, Tyler Rake is nursed back to help by some of Mumbai’s best physicians and with the help of his friends, fellow mercenary Nik Kahn (Golshifteh Farahani) and her brother Yaz (Adam Bessa). As Tyler starts to enjoy retirement in a snowy mountain cabin with his chickens, he’s approached by a mysterious man (Idris Elba) who offers him an extraction job. Tyler is initially hesitant but accepts once he realizes the job is coming from his ex-wife Mia (Olga Kurylenko), who wants Tyler to break into a Georgian prison and rescue her sister Ketevan (Tinatin Dalakishvili) and her two kids, Sandro (Andro Jafaridze) and Nina (Miriam and Marta Kovziashvili) from the clutches of Zurab (Tornike Gogrichiani), a ruthless Georgian gangster and Ketevan’s husband who runs his criminal empire alongside his brother Sergo (George Lasha). What follows is Tyler’s most dangerous yet personal mission, yet as he attempts to save the family, he previously could not in his marriage.

“Extraction 2” multiplies everything that worked in the first film. The scope is way larger, the action hits harder, the kills are more brutal, and the set pieces are impressive enough to elevate this franchise to the high standard set by the “Mission: Impossible” and “John Wick” films. The sequence which will have everyone talking is the Georgian prison breakout sequence which is made to look like one shot (much like how the first film had the stunning twelve-minute “oner” in Bangladesh) as Tyler infiltrates the prison, gets in a fight with Sergo and several of his men, gets caught in a prison riot (and has to fight off even more dangerous men), which leads to a car chase and culminates on a moving train. Hand-to-hand combat, gun fights, riot shields, flaming punches, car stunts, flying helicopters, this scene has it all and then some. It’s a dizzying, stunning, and all together immaculately put-together 21-minute-long sequence that stands out as the pinnacle technical highlight of the film. Of course, one can find the hidden edits throughout if one looks hard enough, but the adrenaline never lets up, and with so much happening from both a plot and character perspective during this sequence, it becomes an immersive case of sensory overload and stands as reason enough as to why you should seek this film out in a theater as opposed to watching it at home.

The next action scene that follows is an assault on a hotel in Mumbai with an impressive scale and dynamics that feels like “Die Hard” meets “Heat.” Still, it’s here where the plot starts making one too many consolations for the sake of convenience, which often breaks the fascination with the action filmmaking and provokes logical questions that the film simply does not have any answers for. Written by one-half of the Russo Brothers (Joe Russo), the outline for the story is strong enough to carry “Extraction 2” through its more uneven details. Tyler’s motivations are understandable, as is Zurab’s, as the two lethal men are placed on a compelling collision course with one another, which leads to the film’s final setpiece where the scope of the earlier action scenes is stripped away and replaced with an intimate and personal one-on-one encounter that will have audiences gasping and wincing at the sheer brutality of the pain Tyler and Zurab inflict on one another. It’s a bold move that ultimately pays off, even though nothing can quite match the sheer technical display prison breakout earlier in the film.

With stronger character work and a grueling work ethic that shows every moment on screen, Chris Hemsworth brings new emotional depth to Tyler and proves there may be life for him in another franchise beyond playing the God of Thunder. The dedication and physicality required to pull off many of these action scenes must’ve been exhausting, but the hard work from him and Hargrave translates into a far more engaging mission this time for the former Australian SAS operator turned black-ops mercenary. Hemsworth is aided by Golshifteh Farahani and Adam Bessa, whose roles are expanded far beyond what was presented in the first film. Their teamwork and camaraderie are established through the epic action scenes and the quieter moments in between, leading to a likable team that will have audiences invested in the fates of each character outside of its leading man. Hemsworth may have top billing, but praise should also be heaped upon Farahani and Bessa for their commitment to the film’s giant setpieces and for getting us to care for these characters.

Some saw the potential in “Extraction” upon its release in 2020 for the birth of a new action franchise for Hemsworth and Netflix. I personally did not. When I found out “Extraction 2” was being developed, I dismissed it and went in to watch the final film with skepticism. What Hemsworth, Hargrave, and the rest of the cast and crew have accomplished is they’ve convinced me to believe not only can they make more Tyler Rake “Extraction” films, but they should. And I suspect those who felt similar toward the first film will likely be converted this time around as well. If each film is going to improve upon itself to the degree this one does (with the writing still being its most uneven quality), then I say let them make as many as they want. Through its astonishing set pieces, emotional stakes, and devotion from everyone involved, “Extraction 2” firmly establishes this is the action franchise Netflix has desperately been looking for, one which Hemsworth can enter into a new phase of his career with, and audiences have been clamoring more for lately.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - A marked improvement over its predecessor in nearly every area with a bigger sense of scale and emotional stakes. Hemsworth's commitment. The action set pieces are impressively conceived and thrillingly stunning. More for Golshifteh Farahani and Adam Bessa to do this time around.

THE BAD - The writing is still uneven and has far too many logic gaps for the sake of convenience.

THE OSCARS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

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Matt Neglia
Matt Negliahttps://nextbestpicture.com/
Obsessed about the Oscars, Criterion Collection and all things film 24/7. Critics Choice Member.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>A marked improvement over its predecessor in nearly every area with a bigger sense of scale and emotional stakes. Hemsworth's commitment. The action set pieces are impressively conceived and thrillingly stunning. More for Golshifteh Farahani and Adam Bessa to do this time around.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The writing is still uneven and has far too many logic gaps for the sake of convenience.<br><br> <b>THE OSCARS - </b>None <br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"EXTRACTION 2"