Dir: Sam Hargrave
Star: Chris Hemsworth, Tornike Gogrichiani, Golshifteh Farahani, Adam Bessa
Three years ago, Extraction came out of nowhere to become perhaps the best pure action film of 2020. This won’t be reproducing that feat in 2023 – John Wick: Chapter 4 likely has the title in a stranglehold – but it still delivers a thoroughly entertaining experience, along similar lines. The sequel has first to figure out how to bring back central character Tyler Rake (Hemsworth), since he was last seen plummeting from a bridge in Bangladesh. Turns out it was just a flesh wound, or something. A bit of hospital care in Dubai, recuperation in an Austrian chalet, a quick re-training montage and he’s ready for his next mission. This time, rescuing his sister-in-law and her kids from abusive husband and career criminal, Davit Radiani. Complicating matters, the family is living with Davit in a Georgian jail.
There’s a palpable pause before Tyler, with his allies Nik and Yaz (Farahani and Bessa), launches his assault. You sense Hargreaves loosening up, ready to unleash a signature “one-shot” action sequence, like the 12-minute one from the original. And, boy, does he deliver, with a 21-minute sequence of escalating insanity. Tyler and team fight their way out of a prison, through a riot in the courtyard, into a car chase, and finally, onto a train which is being chased by multiple helicopters and a “Reaper Team”. Which is exactly what you think it is. This is awesome, likely reaching a peak when Hemsworth catches fire and keeps punching people.
It’s likely impossible for the film to top that, and it doesn’t really try. Instead, we get a number of more conventional, yet undeniably well-staged action sequences, as Davit’s brother, Zurab (Gogrichiani), seeks revenge, and to take his teenage nephew back. Like the first movie, there’s a resonance with Tyler’s own shortcomings as a parent, though the attempts at emotional depth feel just as perfunctory as the previous time. They do serve the necessary purpose, of giving Tyler a justification for charging right back into danger. Mind you, the film should have ended half an hour earlier, the hero simply walking away when Zurab was stunned, rather than administering the logical double-tap to the head. I might have yelled a little bit at the screen there.
I did like the new arrivals Nik and Yaz, who inject a touch of humanity, into what could otherwise potentially be two hours of stoic violence. Nik, in particular, deserves her own girls-with-guns franchise, and I would watch the hell out of that. Idris Elba shows up as a shadow figure with no name, who basically appears to be Rake’s employer, and it will be interesting to see where this goes from here. A third movie seems all but inevitable, and at least they don’t repeat the mistake of its predecessor and kill off the main character. How the makers will be able to top this, remains to be seen. If there’s not a one-shot lasting at least thirty minutes, I’m going to be disappointed.