In 2020, with movie theaters shut down and the entire world desperate for something that felt at least somewhat like a massive, Hollywood action blockbuster to take our minds off things, Netflix dropped Extraction. The Chris Hemsworth-led action pic from the Russo Brothers and directed by their longtime stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave was an instant streaming hit and saved the summer blockbuster. Of course, the streamer had the slight problem of the hero dying at the end of the film, but in Hollywood, that’s just a minor speed bump. So we now have Extraction 2 for review, with Hemsworth returning once again to extract some people and brutally murder many, many others.
Extraction 2 picks up right where the first movie left off as we see Tyler Rake (Hemsworth) get shot and fall of a bridge after he just successfully extracted the young child he was tasked with saving all while coming out of the shell he constructed around himself after the death of his son. Turns out that Rake did not die after falling off the bridge, and he was quickly rescued by his handler Nik Khan (Golshifteh Farahani), sent to a hospital, and eventually dropped off in one of those remote, snowy cabins where action heroes go to get their shit back together. Of course, you can’t keep an ex-mercenary out of the game for long, and soon Rake is recruited by a mysterious man (Idris Elba) to help extract some more helpless people. This time, however, it’s personal. It turns out that Rake’s sister-in-law is married to a Czech crime lord who has trapped his family in the jail he’s been arrested in.
If much of that plot description was full of cliches, it’s because the film is a mountain of them. From nearly invincible heroes to a training montage that would do Rocky proud, Extraction 2 isn’t exactly treading any new ground here. Hell, even the relatively touching emotional core of the first film is pretty much ripped out here, despite the filmmakers’ best attempts to rehash Rake’s son’s death for emotional pull. No, Extraction 2 is basically just two hours of balls-out action, and… it kind of rocks.
Of course, the standout feature Netflix has been touting is the film’s 20-minute long, “single-shot” action sequence following the escape from the jail of Rake and the family. Single-shot action sequences are not easy to pull off even with digital trickery and they’re even less easy to warrant, but Hargrave does both. The sequence jumps through multiple action set pieces, each one showing off a different genre of action. It starts in the most classic of single-shot sequences, the hallway fight; then moves into a close-quarters, one-on-one brawl; then into a massive riot fight sequence, which is followed by a car chase, into a shootout in a factory, until it finally concludes in a train sequence. It’s all in one shot and, more importantly, all handled with impeccable skill with the direction shifting to fit the sequence. Yes, you can, of course, tell in parts where the camera cuts or where CGI is doing a lot of heavy lifting, but it’s still an impressive feat and just damn fun to watch.
Even when the camera does eventually cut, the ride isn’t exactly over. Once that sequence starts, the film is basically just action until the end. Yes, there are a few breaks for people to say words about things, but every action sequence in this under-two-hour movie is absurdly long and obscenely brutal. Extraction 2 earns it R rating, with multiple kills that seem ripped out of a horror film instead of an action movie and a slew of violent takedowns that are both awesome and disturbing. The film verges a bit into John Wick territory as people start shooting each other at point blank multiple times in gun fu-like fight sequences, but if you’re getting hung up on reality in a film like this, then it’s probably not for you in the first place.
Chris Hemsworth also proves once again why he’s a dominant force in action cinema. The actor not only pulled off most of his own stunts in what must have been an absolutely grueling shoot, but he can bring a charm to even the most cardboard of characters, which helps when you’re dealing with a character whose literal motivation is to move from point A to point B in the film equivalent of an escort mission in a video game. The end result is that Hemsworth imbues Rake with far more likability than the character deserves, elevating the film from just great action into a good time as well.
In case it wasn’t clear, Netflix and the Russos are turning this into a franchise. Extraction may have ended with a bit of doubt about Tyler Rake’s survival, but Extraction 2 leaves absolutely no doubt in mind about more films coming. With the casting of Elba in a role so small that it was written specifically to play a bigger part in sequels and an ending that teases a mysterious newcomer to the world of extracting people from situations, it is very clear more is coming. That all may sound facetious, but given the now-a-franchise’s track record, it’s pretty exciting. A dose of nonstop action every few years from a talented director and quality action star? Sign me up.
Extraction 2 releases on Netflix on June 16.