Friday, 29 May 2020



The latest Netflix Original movie hits the streaming service with a wet thud and the sound, not the crisp pffft of the numerous machine gun and automatic rifle rounds pumped through silencers into the countless nameless and faceless legions of bad guy stooges, but the slow pfffft of disappointment and wildly unmet expectations. How can a film with so many people being bloodily and casually killed be so thunderingly dull, so stupefyingly boring? How can a film written and produced by one of the directors of the light and fun Marvel comicbook series, and starring one of its most enjoyable performers, be so deficient in basic entertainment value?

The charm, fun and heroism of Chris Hemsworth's Asgardian superhero turn is Thorly missed in Extraction: he's a battered, battle-scarred and world-weary mercenary hired to rescue a crime lord's kidnapped son from somewhere in the slums of Bangladesh. Rescuing the kid turns out to be the easy part: not only is there an immediate double-cross, but the abductor launches a wave of disposable extras (both corrupt military and wannabe gangster street kids) to get the child back...

There's no humour to be had here, no wit, no lightness, no charm, either in Hemsworth's improbably named Tyler Rake (though he does get to kill someone with a rake at one point) or the film itself. Sure, there's a brutal car chase (designed to look like it was filmed in one take) and it's pretty violent (Netflix seem to think it's an 18 certificate but the BBFC actually gave it a 15), but the action mostly lacks the inventiveness of John Wick or John Woo, where the numerous face-offs are more choreographed dance sequences than straightforward gun massacres. Director Sam Hargrove comes from a stunts background, working with Hemsworth on several of Marvel's (and Hemsworth's) Avengers movies, but Extraction is a lot grittier and more miserable than even their DC rivals. And despite (or maybe because of) all the endless waves of armoured bad guys being shot to pieces or thrown off apartment block balconies, it's impossible to care very much.

Worse, it has a downer of an ending followed by a final coda that deliberately leaves things open-ended in case they want to do another one. Which they've already announced, but to be honest I'd be surprised if I go back to it. Much as I like Hemsworth and much as I'm always up for a crunchy smashy action movie, this just isn't any fun and that's really what we need right now.