EXTRACTION 2 – Review by Nadine Whitney

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The stuntman/stunt-co-ordinator to mainstream Hollywood action director pipeline proved successful for David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. It was less certain for Sam Hargrave whose debut feature Extraction proved to be a lockdown audience crowd pleaser but was far from a critical darling. Although the mostly Mumbai set actioner showed his talent for fight choreography there was little else of substance. The protagonist Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) was nihilistic and reticent to the point of being almost blank and the plot mechanics were both simplistic and messy. Extraction 2 is a more rounded film which gives Rake character development and depth despite writer Joe Russo’s tin ear for dialogue.

Proving to be as hard to kill as John Wick, Rake is rescued from the river he fell into in the last film and is airlifted to Dubai where he is in a coma. Flashes of his deceased son come to him and he eventually awakens. His colleague Nik Khan (Golshifteh Farahani) says that Rake has a reason he fought to live; he just needs to discover what it is.

Still badly injured Rake retires to a sparse cottage outside of Vienna with only a single box of memories and his dog to keep him company. He seems content to be out of the world of both black ops mercenary work and dealing with people in general. A mysterious visitor (Idris Elba) turns up at his house and offers him a job – one he can’t turn down as it is the extraction of his ex-sister-in-law Ketevan (Tinatin Dalakishvili) from a Georgian prison where she and her children are being kept by her imprisoned husband and mobster, Davit Radiani (Tordike Bziava). Davit has used the excuse that the family is unsafe on the outside because of enemies who will target the Radiani family, progenitors of the crime syndicate The Nagazi (The Shepherds) who are a billion-dollar industry being run by Davit’s older brother Zurab (Tordike Gogrichiani). Unable to say no to Mia’s (Olga Kurylenko) request and acting as a form of reparation for leaving his family when his son was dying, Rake takes on the job despite his physical condition being far from ideal.

Putting his team back together including Nik and Yaz (Adam Bessa) Rake goes into the heavily guarded and gang divided prison to extract Ketevan and her two children, the teenage Sandro (Andro Japaridze) and young Nina (Mariami Kovziashvili). The extraction goes sour when Davit tries to murder Ketevan to stop her taking his children, especially Sandro who he believes will become Nagazi by birth right.

Hargrave ups the ante in his sequel in every possible manner. The close and hand to hand combat is superbly choreographed and the big action beats are meatier than the first. Extraction had a famous long take one-shot and Hargrave goes one better by having at least two (if not more) with one involving a spectacular car chase. The bombast of the action scenes is admirable, and Nik finally gets her time to shine as an action heroine in her own right.

Emotionally there is more going on. With the first film Tyler needed to rescue Ovi Mahajan because he formed a tenuous bond with the teen. In the sequel the people who need saving are not only a family, but his family. If Rake has a penance to pay for abandoning Mia and his dying son, then he will pay it in blood. The bond of blood extends to the maniacal Zurab who will do anything to avenge Davit’s death. With his team of Nagazi soldiers who worship him as an almost cult leader, Zurab is a formidable and unstoppable foe.

Joe and Anthony Russo’s script based on the graphic novel by Ande Parks gives Rake and his team more weight but still fails in terms of believable dialogue which sometimes undermines some of the more solemn moments. However, what most audiences will require from Extraction 2 is big and inventive action and the film delivers consistently on that front. Hemsworth having more of a personality is a welcome change and getting a sense of how he turned from former soldier into a death seeking merc allows for an expressive inroad that the previous film lacked. It also presents the opportunity for the piece to inject some occasional banter and humour.

Extraction 2 is a rousing action movie with some much-needed gravitas for Rake and the other characters. The stakes are higher in every manner and Hargrave delivers a solidly entertaining movie with all the exploding helicopters and hand to hand fight scenes that the audience requires.

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Nadine Whitney

Nadine Whitney is a seasoned film critic and scholar. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Nadine contributes regularly to FILMINK, The Curb, and Mr Movies Film Blog. She holds a degree in cinema theory and cultural studies. Her specialty is surrealism in cinema. She is as passionate about cats as she is about film. She is co-chair of the Australian Film Critics Association and a member of FIPRESCI.