Chris Hemsworth returns to the role of mercenary Tyler Rake in Extraction 2 – it’s an action-packed yet uneven sequel…
Despite being on the brink of death, Chris Hemsworth’s capable mercenary Tyler Rake is dragged back into action when he’s recruited to rescue the family of a nasty Georgian gangster who has them locked up in prison with him. It’s a tall order for the battered and bruised hero, especially considering that he starts this film in a coma, but director Sam Hargrave and screenwriter Joe Russo have fashioned a gripping and well-shot action sequel. One that even features Idris Elba poking fun at the ridiculously-named protagonist.
The first 45 minutes of Extraction 2 are joyous. It blasts through the story stuff in record time. Rake being forced to retire after waking from the coma severely weakened and living in a cabin in the woods with his dog and a bunch of chickens doesn’t last for long. When Idris Elba pops in for a cuppa tea and to give him his new job (but mainly the tea), it kicks off an action-packed chain of events that rarely pauses long enough to let Hemsworth take a breath.
He regains his strength in record time in a Rocky-like training montage, and sets off to perform an elaborate prison break. You may have read that this sequence goes on for over 20 minutes with no noticeable cuts, and it really is incredible. The shaky camera follows Rake and the family through the prison as absolute chaos unleashes around them.
The fight choreography in this scene is good enough to rival a John Wick movie, but – and this is a good thing – the way it’s filmed lacks that precision and sharpness. The camera doesn’t stay still. It’s a bit messy and chaotic, but without sacrificing the visibility of the fight choreography. Given that the sequence itself is pretty tumultuous, it feels fitting. And sometimes, in this age of crisp and clean action movies, it’s nice to get something that’s not afraid to look a bit rough around the edges.
There’s a lot of variety in it, too. Hemsworth goes through an arsenal of different weapons – some his, some improvised – and shows that he can kick ass even when he’s knocked on the floor, or on fire. Yes, on fire. The incredible fun of this is enhanced again by the fact that it knows when to shift set pieces. It goes seamlessly from a prison break, to a car chase, to a shootout, to a sequence on a freight train. It just doesn’t stop moving. It’s complete carnage, and is just great fun.
Perhaps the genius of those first 45 minutes are the film’s undoing. The rest of Extraction 2 unfortunately fails to live up to the standard it sets at the start.
There are more quiet scenes that attempt to dig into the emotional side of Hemsworth’s protagonist, and they really slow things down. This sequel doesn’t just attempt to create a sense of continuity by involving Golshifteh Farahani and Adam Bessa’s Nik and Yaz Khan, it also ties its main plot closely to Rake’s backstory.
Hemsworth gives some emotional weight to these quieter moments where Rake wrestles with his inner demons, but at the end of the day this is an action film. The plot-heavy moments tend to mess with the pacing, and none of the characters have enough depth to really warrant that much attention compared to the action. It’s hard to feel much toward the new characters, either, aside from Tinatin Dalakishvili’s abused wife Ketevan. The younger of her two children doesn’t get a lot to do and the older son Sandro is, well, a bit of a shit. The Georgian gangsters are largely lacking any interesting personality traits and are all around generic.
The action, then, is the thing holding Extraction 2 together, and even that becomes less innovative past a certain point. There’s a big action sequence that takes place during a quick pit-stop in Vienna, where none of the locations are recognisably Austrian, but they do serve very nice-looking cake. These scenes culminate in a much more generic shoot out that lacks a lot of creativity. Rake sets a couple of interesting traps, and someone faceplants a moving treadmill, but apart from that it’s largely unremarkable.
There are glimmers of brilliance in the final parts of the film. A one-on-one battle using mostly construction tools is a highlight, but it never hits the highs of that relentless opening stretch. Really, though, this is a film worth watching for those first 45 minutes alone.
Extraction 2 is streaming now on Netflix.
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