The white savior narrative is alive and well in Sam Hargrave’s Extraction, Netflix’s latest action romp starring Chris Hemsworth as a black-ops mercenary tasked with recovering the kidnapped son (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) of an imprisoned Bangladeshi mafioso. A generic retread of Tony Scott’s 2004 Man on Fire, Hemsworth plays Tyler Rake (lol), a loner-type who spends his days (cliche alert) boozing and brooding the death of a deceased family member while fielding offers for dangerous missions in foreign lands.
Extraction has a rather misleading title – the big retrieval occurs about 20 minutes into the film and feels incredibly undeveloped. Instead of going into any of the logistics of the rescue, Hargrave, who served as a second-unit director and Chris Evans’ stunt double in the Avengers movies, rushes through this part of the plot with clumsy exposition and a bunch of indoor hand-to-hand combat stuff. After a shaky first hour, the film starts to pick up some steam after a rather clever twist sets a thrilling breakout/chase scene in motion. Fluid, kinetic and creatively choreographed, the action sequences aren’t for the squeamish – the body count is absurdly high and the violence gleefully graphic. However, like all good things, too much can lead to ruin – the in-your-face brutality eventually grows tiresome and pointless.
The film is morally questionable in a variety of ways, most notably having a white mercenary as its hero. His only flaw? Being too damn fine. In this warped world, the entire Bangladeshi security apparatus is so corrupt and compromised that the only person who could possibly save the day is a hot and suicidal Australian killer-for-hire. In one of the silliest scenes, one of the villains orders a military man to shut down the entire country, including the airports, all because this foreigner with BDE is causing such a ruckus.
Extraction fares better than other recent Netflix action joints – Michael Bay’s 6 Underground and Peter Berg’s Spenser Confidential were all trash and no flash. This one furthers all sorts of myths, some dangerous (redemptive violence), some stupid and outdated (white savior), while offering a decent amount of escapist fun for these indoorsy times.
Extraction premieres tomorrow on Netflix