Sam Hargrave’s Extraction 2 is exactly what it promises to be: a two-hour action juggernaut, which is more live-action video game than cinema. This isn’t what you should be watching if you are trying to recover from a bad headache.
Written by Joe Russo, this sequel to the 2020 Netflix film Extraction is also based on the graphic novel Ciudad by Ande Parks, Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Fernando León González, and Eric Skillman. Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, and Adam Bessa return to their roles along with new faces on the cast, Olga Kurylenko, Daniel Bernhardt, Tinatin Dalakishvili, and Idris Elba.
This Thor and Heimdall reunion is nothing to get too excited about. It barely lasts five minutes and can be described as lacklustre at best. Perhaps on a bigger screen, with a few MCU fans hooting beside you in the theatre, the scene could have transformed into something more special. Such popcorn flicks are, after all, meant for a theatrical experience.
This time, Australian mercenary Tyler Rake, his kinda-sorta boss Nik Kahn, and her brother Yaz Kahn are tasked with a job that gets personal. Rake’s ex-wife Mia wants him to rescue her sister Keto and her kids from a Georgian prison, where they are being held hostage by Keto’s abusive husband, a ruthless Georgian gangster. He belongs to a group called the Nagazi, which means ‘shepherd’. But you never get to know why they call themselves that, and boo you for asking.
During the extraction process, the gangster dies, setting off his revenge-hungry brother on the tail of our heroes, and that is pretty much what the whole film is about. The very imaginatively titled Extraction 2 is nonstop action interspersed with some narrative story propelling the action forward. It reminded me of every first-person shooter game plus ones like “A Way Out”. While The Last of Us takes a video game and manages to tell a human story, Extraction 2 is just the latest in action films designed like video games that are mostly about men who are stronger than superheroes and all things that go boom.
The film’s first act starts with one of the messiest prison breaks in film history. The sequence is also entirely too long. Rake gets to rip limbs, break locks with bare hands, shoot heads off, and prove that he is fireproof. Even Thor doesn’t have this much plot armour. Okay, he does but he is a literal god! The other prisoners who keep showing up, disappear after being killed just like NPCs (non-player characters), instead of dropping onto each other and forming a spectacular pile of human bodies, ala Lijo Jose Pellissery’s visually striking Jallikattu. Even with so much extravaganza, there is no cinematic pageantry in Hargrave’s hamper.
This prison escape scene is immediately followed by a high-octane chase sequence, with cars flipping through the air, grenades, missiles, and more bullets. From bulletproof cars, our heroes move to a heavily armoured train, where they are chased by helicopters with missiles. More bullets fly. Then they move to a speed boat, then a private plane, and finally more cars that transport them to a safe house. The entire sequence is kind of like an exploration of all kinds of transport known to humankind currently and how handy they might come in if you ever need to hatch an escape plan in real life.
Don’t lose heart thinking this is the end of the ‘boom boom kapowww’ scenes. There are more car chases, running around on foot, and shootouts…so many shootouts—in gyms, in parking lots, on the roof, down the stairways, in a church. Our hero Rake also goes stabby-stabby on the villains once the bullets stop being fun plot devices.
There is gore and blood galore, and the performances are adequate, with Farahani putting the most emotion behind her words and easily standing out. This script follows a standard paint-by-numbers formula with the first step being: Extraction; the second step being: Defend the human cargo; the third step being: Get them to safety or die trying (especially if you are a secondary character); and the optional fourth step being: Set things up for a sequel.
The only problematic bit in this otherwise inoffensive action fare is the ableist caricature of the villain who has a hearing disability, a facial scar, as well as an eye deformity courtesy of a brutish father, who assigned him to be his brother’s keeper when they were children. Rake, on the other hand, miraculously recovers from being declared clinically dead at the start of the film. And then proceeds to simply work through his physical impairments to become the able-bodied hero who saves weak women and children. He also manages to find closure for himself while road-tripping through the grenade-filled landscape of Extraction 2.
Our cartoonish bad guy sadly doesn’t get to overcome the cycles of abuse he faces. He succumbs to it. But then again, Extraction 2 is not that deep.
Extraction 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.