Extraction Review: Chickens Aren’t Cheap

14-year-old Ovi Mahajan seems like your average honor roll student in Mumbai, India who is just trying to loosen the reigns of his controlling father. But Ovi is the son of the biggest crime lord in India, Ovi Mahajan Sr., and he’s kidnapped by his father’s rival Bangladeshi crime lord Amir Asif. Saju (Randeep Hooda), Ovi’s protector and former Indian Special Forces soldier, is ordered to rescue Ovi by Ovi’s father.

At the same time, Ovi Sr. hires a black mercenary team led by Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) and Nik Khan to rescue Ovi from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Tyler rescues Ovi, but is drawn into a trap when he reaches the extraction point. Ovi Sr.’s men intentionally don’t pay Tyler and his team with the intention of sending Saju in to retrieve Ovi and avoid payment. Saju kills most of Tyler’s team while Tyler and Ovi go on the run in an effort to get the payment Tyler believes he deserves.

It’s crazy how similar Extraction is to the John Wick franchise. Extraction is also directed by a stuntman turned director (Sam Hargrave), the main character is this nasty mercenary all for the sake of a loved one, and there are some fairly impressive action sequences in both franchises. But Tyler Rake is a different feral beast in comparison to John Wick.

John Wick has yet to shove a candlestick in someone’s eyeball, but Tyler shoves a man’s face into a garden rake in the first big action piece of the film. Tyler is also very much still in the game of being a hired gun. Tyler basically lives in a chicken shack out in the middle of Nowhere, Australia in an effort to forget about the wife whose whereabouts are unknown and a son that died from lymphoma at the age of six.

During a quieter moment in the action thriller, Ovi tells Tyler about a quote he read in a book. “You drown not by falling into the river, but by staying submerged in it.” Tyler jumps into a river at the beginning of the film while Ovi jumps into a pool at the end; both of them submerging themselves for a long period of time.

The quote serves as this intriguing bridge for the film and as a connection between Ovi and Tyler. Director Sam Hargrave and writer Joe Russo aimed for this ambiguous ending that probably isn’t as open ended as they intended for it to be.

The events of Extraction are mostly a redemption arc for Tyler and what led to the death of his son. The film has been accused of having “white savior” elements and the film is probably guilty of that, but it also doesn’t really factor into the entertainment value of the film. Also, without Hemsworth, Extraction wouldn’t have the attention it currently has or the success it’s found since its release at the end of April.

The action sequences are on par with just about anything out of John Wick besides a few instances of weak CGI (funky looking explosions and obvious green screen utilization in the big car chase).

Extraction has a way of making the audience feel like they’re a part of the action though; being directly in front or behind Tyler as he’s trying to protect Ovi. Extraction seems to have these big fight scenes in cramped spaces like stairwells and hallways. Most of them, the car chase in particular, are either done in one-take or are extended sequences with hidden cuts. The longest single take action sequence lasts 11 minutes and 30 seconds.

Randeep Hooda as Saju Rav.

Hemsworth’s performance is interesting since he has one big emotional scene as the centerpiece of a character that mostly yells and grunts at every opportunity. Randeep Hooda is particularly awesome as Saju Rav. The thing about Extraction is nobody in the film is a hero. Tyler and Saju are both mercenaries while the key players are either drug lords or the son of a drug lord.

Hooda is just as impressive as Hemsworth when it comes to hand to hand combat, being thrown around, shot, and hit by cars.  Their fight scenes against each other are some of the strongest of Extraction.

The Saju character is really just trying to protect his family and that includes Ovi in a complicated way. Hooda should receive way more praise than David Harbour, who shows up for around eight minutes to wrestle Chris Hemsworth, get drunk, cook, and talk about his wife.

A sequel seems to be on the horizon, which sours the ambiguity of the film. When Nik Khan recruits Tyler for the job she tells Tyler, “Spin the chamber enough times, you’re gonna catch a bullet.” Extraction begins as this escape for the Tyler character that is haunted by the tragedy of his son, but you can’t help but feel like Tyler sees a lot of his son in Ovi. His well-being becomes more important than the money. Tyler’s desire to be the sole survivor of a demolition derby suddenly has meaning and living now makes way more sense than dying for Tyler.

The Verdict

Extraction is a flawed film, especially when it comes to Ovi having more of an emotional connection with Tyler than Saju while the ending feels like an indecisive tease, but its extended and bloody action sequences are impressive enough to make Extraction a worthwhile action packed escape for any given evening.

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