High in action, rich in production design, Hemsworth, Hooda back it up with a fine show
Rating: 3 /5
Director: Sam Hargrave
By Mayur Lookhar
With the world shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the prime source of entertainment is the digital streaming platforms. Russo brothers [Joe and Anthony] of Avengers fame have unleashed their latest action drama Extraction  on Netflix today [24 April, 2020].
The story by Russo brothers draws influence from Ande Parks’ graphic novel Ciudad . Parks and Russo brothers’ Ciudad was set in Paraguay. The Russos have set Extraction far away in Asia [Bangladesh and India].
Earlier titled Dhaka, Extraction  sees Aussie Tyler Rake [Chris Hemsworth], former SASR [Special Air Service Regiment operator turned mercenary], undertake a rescue mission in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Dhaka drug lord Amir Asif has plotted the successful kidnapping of his Indian arch rival Ovi Mahajan Sr’s [Pankaj Tripathi] 14-year-old son, also named Ovi [Rudraksh Jaiswal]. Mahajan Sr has warned his top henchman Saju [Randeep Hooda] to save his son or face severe consequences. It’s a matter of pride for Mahajan Sr and so he won’t tolerate Saju taking external help. That though is an impossible task. So, Saju reluctantly hires Rake and his team of mercenaries for the extraction.
Things don’t go as planned, well they seldom do, as Rake and his team are played here in this dangerous mission. The odds are against Rake and young Ovi leaving Dhaka alive.
Extraction drives on its high-octane action. And so, the Russos had entrusted stuntman Sam Hargrave to helm his maiden directorial. The Captain America: Civil War  stunt coordinator also fires few shots as Rake’s sniper Gaetan. With Hargrave at the helm, there was bound to be riveting action. But what make its impressive is the combat in the claustrophobic red-light areas, cramped narrow bylanes. Given the film’s narrative, Hargrave and his team created a Dhaka in Thailand, Ahmedabad. The locations look very authentic – courtesy the impressive creation by production designer Phil Ivey. Filming action sequences in expressways, huge spaces are relatively easy, but shooting them in narrow lanes, claustrophobic, shady slums is one daunting task. Hargrave choreographed some ripping action scenes, shot brilliantly by cinematographer Thomas Segel. The blood bath in the slums, speedy chase in narrow lanes by beating the heavy traffic is simply breath taking.
Chris Hemsworth’s attained global fame as the super hero Thor from the Marvel Comic Universe films. While there’s no doubting his combat skills, but Hemsworth, the actor has copped his share of criticism. The Australian though nails it here with a convincing performance. Tyler Rake is not all about guns, but he carries mental scars too. Submerging himself into deep waters, holding onto his breath for long, is Rake’s way to reminisce his tragic past.
Hemsworth packs a punch but wins you over with his emotionally gripping show. The global star that he is, his popularity will only rise further in the Indian sub-continent.
Indian actor Randeep Hooda has long lived under the shadow of his erstwhile Bollywood super stars. While the super stars may be prettier, but not many can match Hooda’s intensity. Though not quite in the league of Hemsworth, but Hooda pleasantly surprises you as an action super star. Saju’s fierce battle with Rake is bound to draw whistles from the audience. Hooda makes his mark in his maiden international film. So does Irani actress, singer Golshifteh Farahani, who plays Rake’s colleague Nik Khan, a competent mercenary herself.
Young Rudraksh Jaiswal must be envied by his friends. He’d first shown his talent playing Sahadeva in the 2013 TV series Mahabharat. Despite all the blood bath, chaos around him, Jaiswal holds his nerve to give a composed performance. As son of a drug lord himself, Ovi Jr can’t be blamed for firing the gun in defense.
Priyanshu Painyuli is cruel as Amir Asif. It is common to have brutal, evil drug lords in South America. An evil, brutal Bangladeshi drug lord is not often seen in Asian films. Painyuli does his reputation no harm with another gripping show. Though you are a little amused seeing Amir Asif watch the entire finale action (through binoculars) on the river bridge miles away from the terrace of his palatial residence.
It’s a known secret that drug cartels employ kids in South America. The drug scenario in Indian sub-continent is largely uncovered. Seeing slum kids in populous Dhaka being drawn to drug cartels shouldn’t really shake your soul. First-time actor Suraj Nikame shines as the newly recruited henchmen of Asif.
It’s scary to see young boys attempt to kill Rake. One of them [not Nikame] looks just 8-10 years old. Poverty alone doesn’t drive them to crime. Fear of life leaves helpless slum kids to bow to the evil. Asif’s evil henchmen throwing a young boy from a terrace is sickening to watch. While mankind is capable of any evil act, but this inhuman scene could have been averted
While the action is great, but there few loop holes. Extraction is unlikely to win any praise in Dhaka with the film likely to be accused of stereotyping Bangladeshis. Drug cartels in South America can perhaps have the entire government in their pockets, but in Asia that’s a little far-fetched. (Mind you, good, honest governance is not easily found in the Indian sub-continent too). A corrupt police system is more acceptable but seeing dozens of Bangladeshi army soldiers, commandos battle a white man trying to save an Indian kid is a bit hard to swallow. Can one corrupt army man order dozens of Bangladeshi soldiers to carry out a mission for a drug lord? Would the Bangladeshi government or army top brass allow such an aimless operation?
Here is an Aussie [Hemsworth] and an Indian [Hooda] literally kicking Bangladeshi army asses with relative ease. That is a bit disrespectful to the Bangladeshi army.
You also question why would one seek the help of a man who earlier eliminated most of your fellow mercenaries?
Extraction  cops its share of criticism, but it is an ideal distraction from our boring lives in this global lockdown period. A must though for all fans of the action genre. Go extract your adrenaline rush.