Extraction is a good example of a film that most viewers and critics probably would have overlooked if not for the COVID-19 pandemic.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad film. It’s an unapologetic action movie and it definitely gets the job done. The fight scenes are exciting. The car chases will get your heart pounding. There’s an extended chase/fight scene that appears to have been filmed as one long, continuous shot and it’s unbelievably exciting to watch. (I will admit that a friend of mine complained that some of the extras in the scene didn’t seem to be reacting realistically to all of the destruction happening around them but I was so caught up in the breathless intensity of the scene that I didn’t notice.) Chris Hemsworth gives an effective performance in the lead role, proving that he can be a good and believable action hero even when he’s not playing the Norse God of Thunder.
The film tells the story of what happens when Ovi (played by Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of an Indian drug lord, is kidnapped by his father’s rivals. Tyler Rake (played by Hemsworth) is the mercenary who is hired to rescue Ovi and return him to his father. Rescuing Ovi isn’t much of a problem but it turns out that Ovi’s father has no intention of paying Tyler for his services Instead, he orders his operative, Saju (Randeep Hooda), to kill Tyler’s men and save Ovi himself. It all leads to a chase through the city of Dhaka in Bangladesh. There’s a lot of fights. A lot of people get shot. Ovi and Tyler get to bond a little bit. It’s basically a typical action film but it’s done very well.
To the film’s credit, Saju is not a typical henchman. Instead, he’s a man with a family and he knows that if he fails in his mission, Ovi’s father will kill his family. Indeed, I think it can be argued that the film’s heart — and, despite all of the violence, the film does have one — is with Randeep Hooda. He’s not evil. He’s just trying to do his job and Hooda gives an excellent performance as Saju. Hemsworth is a likable action hero and he’s fun to watch but Randeep Hooda is the one who you really find yourself thinking about. If Saju succeed, Tyler dies and Ovi is returned to his evil father. If Tyler succeeds, both Sajua and his family die. It’s a dilemma that gives Extraction a little bit more depth than the typical action movie.
Ultimately, though, the main reason that Extraction proved to be such a hit (at least with Netflix audiences) had to do with timing. It was released on April 24th, at a time when a lot of people were still struggling to get into the new lockdown routine. At a time when people like me were still shell-shocked at the idea of not being able to go out to a theater and see a new movie every weekend, we were glad to have a real movie to watch. We could watch Extraction and marvel at the big screen-worthy action sequences and we could pretend like nothing had changed. Though it may have ultimately just been another well-made action film, Extraction provided an entertaining escape from the reality of life under lockdown.
Extraction, of course, is still on Netflix, just in case we all need to escape yet again.