Extraction 2 (2023)
Director: Sam Hargrave
Screenwriter: Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Adam Bessa, Olga Kurylenko, Daniel Bernhardt, Tinatin Dalakishvili, Andro Japaridze, Tornike Bziava, Tornike Gogrichiani, Idris Elba
Netflix Original film Extraction (2020) is a spectacular action ride. It’s a more grounded John Wick – both because of its tight and brutal action set in naturalistic environments, and because it was directed by a marquee action stunt coordinator (Sam Hargrave). Chris Hemsworth shines as stoic soldier Tyler Rake, which is surprising because he’s at his best in Marvel when playing the charismatic, comedic Thor. Extraction 2 carries on the legacy of the first film with crazier, more bombastic action set pieces. But is bigger always better? While Extraction 2 is a fantastic feat of action filmmaking, its attempts to outdo its predecessor prevent it from being a truly great film.
Extraction 2 follows Tyler (Hemsworth) as he extracts a gangster’s family from a Georgian prison, inserting himself into a dark family affair. Like the first film, there’s just enough down time to build character and story. These moments are brief but effective, always delivering in an unobtrusive way that gives the film a chance to breathe. One of the main throughlines is that the gangster’s son (Andro Japaridze) is preparing to step into the shoes of his gangster father (Tornike Bziava) and uncle (Tornike Gogrichiani).
Like its predecessor, the action is why people are watching this film. And it is certainly entertaining. The highlight is a 21-minute “single take” scene that takes place in prison. It features hand-to-hand combat, explosives, car chases, helicopters, miniguns, anything and everything you could ask for as an action fan. The scene was rehearsed for five months with 400 actors and 75 stunt performers. The team had 29 days to shoot the scene, and it was near seamlessly edited together.
It’s an incredible feat of filmmaking, but it deviates too far from the first film’s smaller scale action. Tyler has a rocket/grenade launcher that is a little ridiculous even if it is a real thing. And there are many moments where you might find yourself wondering why Tyler cares more about showing off his handsome mug than protecting himself from bullets to the head in the wild firefights. There is also a glass rooftop scene that seems a bit too silly for what the franchise established in its more gritty first incarnation. The excitement derived from the excellent craftsmanship doesn’t make up for the sheer absurdity of what is happening in many moments.
The cooler temperatures of central and eastern Europe also lead to the use of a muted color palette. While the first film’s cinematography is much more naturalistic than in John Wick, its setting in Bangladesh offered more vibrant urban environments than the snowy, industrial look on offer in this film. It’s like Chris Hemsworth is running through a ‘Call of Duty’ map, trying to reach the next stage of the level. Perhaps it could be said to reflect the bleakness of this more personal situation or a change in Tyler’s mindset after his near-death in his last mission, but it comes across as boring. The action should take precedence, but where the action is happening should matter too.
When compared to Netflix’s standard Original releases, especially their so-called “blockbuster” films like The Gray Man and Red Notice, Extraction 2 is a gem. This is the kind of direction and spectacle Netflix should shoot for, even if it is a film better suited for the big screen. It’s difficult to pull off creating such a massive action film, and the filmmakers certainly achieved their goals. If you’re a fan of fight scenes and and Chris Hemsworth, go check out Extraction 2.