Principal Cast : Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Adam Bessa, Tornike Gogrichiani, Olga Kurylenko, Tinatin Dalakishivili, Andro Japaridze, Miriam and Marta Kivziashvili, Daniel Bernhardt, Levan Saginashivili, Idris Elba.
Synopsis: After barely surviving his grievous wounds from his mission in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tyler Rake is back, and his team is ready to take on their next mission.
Effortlessly clambering above the miasma of mediocrity suffocating Netflix these days, 2020’s action thriller Extraction, starring Marvel’s resident hammer-wielding god of thunder Chris Hemsworth, proved to be a winner for the platform; the sequel, a muscular, violent, nasty piece of genre filmmaking, is equal to the task of superseding that which came before. Extraction 2 is a very good film, upping the ante by giving Hemsworth’s impossibly indestructible Tyler Rake a far more elemental villain to fight, a substantial increase in emotional subtext, and an even longer one-take action sequence topping the previous film’s 15-minute effort by almost double. There’s a mixed feeling of John Wick meets Captain America (not surprising, given one of the writers on Marvel’s most successful films ably pens this screenplay) and a degree of Stallone’s Expendables on offer, as Rake and his allies carve a swathe through Europe in an attempt to bring a mother and her two children to safety from a cruel and powerful Georgian mafioso.
After barely surviving death on the streets of Mumbai, black ops merc Tyler Rake recovers in an Austrian cabin, when he is tasked with retrieving the sister of his ex wife Mia (Olga Kurylenko), a woman named Ketevan (Tinatin Dalakishvili) and her children, son Sandro (Andro Japaridze) and daughter Nina (played by twins Miriam and Marta Kovziashvili) from imprisonment by their husband and father, the cruel Georgian drug lord Davit (Tornike Bziava), who has held them in the prison to control them and protect them from assassination. Rake teams up again with partner Nik (Golshifteh Farahani) and her brother Yaz (Adam Bessa) to extricate the trio from the hugely secure and incredibly dangerous facility, prompting a cross-continent pursuit by Davit’s sadistic and bloodlust-crazy brother Zurab (Tornike Gogrichiani) and his henchmen, in order to kill them all.
Although starting off slowly – watching Hemsworth movie-montage his way back to full power-up health while swearing at poor Golshifteh Farahani’s Nik the whole time is fun, for a bit – once the action kicks off Extraction 2 rarely pauses for breath. Hemsworth’s stoic performance, coupled with the continual multi-threaded narratives between his character, that of Farahani and on-screen brother Adam Bessa, and the terrifying scenario surrounding Tinatin Dalakishvili’s estrangement from her imprisoned husband, make for riveting viewing as writer Joe Russo and returning director Sam Hargrave ratchet up the thrills and pulse-pounding verve in a game of cat and mouse that seems impossible to survive, and yet we must. Few action films lean quite so heavily into the “danger at every turn” violence and cartoonish orgy of faceless canon fodder faced by Rake and his team as they crash, bash, shoot and pummel their way from a gulag in deepest Georgia, into a high-rise apartment complex in Vienna that becomes a face-off to rival Michael Mann’s Heat, and finally to a showdown in a church (because symbolism, I guess), with audiences made to feel every punch, gunshot and blood spray emanating from the screen.
Viscera is par for the course in modern action films, appropriating the very real tones of Taken, the aforementioned John Wick and the gloriously over-the-top wantonness of Deadpool’s brutal physicality, distilling the angry realism of those populist films into a vehicle for Hemsworth’s grief-stricken Rake as he analogously deals with past family trauma through his current mission. A minor cameo by Olga Kurylenko as Rake’s ex-wife offers a smidgen of humanity for Rake’s seemingly suicidal dedication to his chosen vocation, and this expansion of the role from the previous film is well needed. It gives Hemsworth’s role depth beyond just pew-pew machismo, as much as the film’s sprawling and unstoppable action sequences will allow. Surprisingly, the latitude afforded to young Andro Japaridze, as Sandro, is also quite compelling: Sandro is torn between his love for his mother and the blood-oath dealings of his father and uncle, which forms the film’s central inciting incident when he seemingly betrays the former before realising his error. This sense of choice between right and wrong mirrors that of Rake’s past, and the atonement for which the character continually references via flashbacks and exposition with the rest of the cast.
Sam Hargrave is a former stunt coordinator turned filmmaker, and this makes him a formidable showman when it comes to mind-blowing action sequences. From the protracted escape from a Georgian prison, which features any number of bruising encounters with prisoners, guards and plenty of people wanting a pound of flesh, through to a climactic escape across country aboard an armoured train, Extraction 2 is sublime when it comes to stitching together a breathless, incredibly tense narrative of tension and danger. I often found myself holding my breath as Hemsworth is assailed and assaulted from all sides in what I have to assume is an un-survivable tsunami of death and destruction; look, the whole film is as improbable as it is exciting (which is to say, very) and asking for a single man to be able to live through the various explosions, gunshots, stabbings, slicings, falling and body injuries he sustains really stretches credulity, but it’s the only ask the film makes of the audience throughout. Hargrave throws literally an army of mercenaries and goons at Hemsworth and like any good Aussie bloke takes his fair share of whacks, but he also knows how to whack back and that makes him a true danger. I want to give major props to the stunt team for the masterful work on this film, as well as to the digital CG artists amplifying up some of the more incredible aspects of Rake’s mission to save his family.
Energetic and engaging, Extraction 2 trims all the fat it can to blast the audience with outrageous action and stuntwork, a deliciously vile screen villain (kudos to Tornike Gogrichiani, a native Georgian actor, for turning his character into one of the screen’s most hateful antagonists of the year to date) and plenty of wild European landscapes wrapping up what is quite a simple story of escape and redemption. The film bolsters its raucous action with just enough emotional heft to motivate the characters (particularly the bad guys, which I found to be quite surprising!) and propel the story along at a rapid clip. Strap in and hold on tight; Extraction 2 is a wild ride.