FILM REVIEW: Extraction

Chris Hemsworth starrer Extraction reminds VINAYAK CHAKRAVORTY of old Hindi action dramas where logic is thrown out the window while setting the hero up as a portrait of machismo

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FILM REVIEW: Extraction

Extraction (Netflix)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Randeep Hooda, Pankaj Tripathi, Priyanshu Painyuli

Directed by: Sam Hargrave

Rating: * * and 1/2 (two and a half stars)


Extraction may be billed as a high-octane action film, but a lot of its stunts would remind you of old-school Bollywood. For a change, this is not so much about contemporary Hollywood CGI razzle as it is about vintage Mumbai action masala. In this film, Thor comes to India – to Bangladesh, according to the script, but it’s Ahmedabad that’s being passed off as Dhaka.

Avengers director duo Anthony and Joe Russo, who co-produce this film with Hemsworth and action choreographer-turned-filmmaker Sam Hargrave, have gone for more than just locations while delivering an Indian feel. Driven by the clear intention of cashing in on violence, they haven’t bothered to check on the subcontinent’s socio-cultural nuances (so typically Hollywood, isn’t it). Ahmedabad simply does not look like Dhaka, never mind the deliberately done Bengali hoardings and occasional Bengali lines thrown in.

The film won’t disappoint action buffs, though. It is unabashedly unidimensional in situations, plot and characters despite a backdrop that could have been tapped to create a smart socio-political thriller. Instead, the effort never deviates from its intention of being a loud stunt fest and little else.
Joe Russo’s screenplay draws from a graphic novel that he once co-authored, titled Ciudad. While the drama in the book is based in the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este, the film transfers the story to Bangladesh’s capital city of Dhaka (incidentally, the film was originally titled “Dhaka”, too).
The plot is basic. Ovi (Rudraksh Jaiswal), the teenage son of a jailed drug lord (Pankaj Tripathi in a blink-and-miss role) is kidnapped by the gangster Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli). Hemsworth as the mercenary Tyler Rake is hired for a whopping sum to bring the boy back.
Extraction operates on a nebulous kidnapping that is never explained, as if Joe Russo saw too many old Hindi action dramas of the eighties and nineties before writing this screenplay, where you throw logic out the window while setting up the hero as a portrait of machismo.

Clearly, stunt director-turned-film director Hargrave gave more attention to a highlight 12-minute action sequence filmed on Hemsworth than storytelling details.
Indeed, Tyler the hero goes to places where even Thor the superhero wouldn’t imagine – in the domain of the hardcore commercial Bollywood. He acquires infallible swag as he bashes up a dozen baddies singlehandedly, and spectacularly goes about his mission. Oh, and he is lonely too, as brooding men of action normally are. Just for the heck of it, they might have given Hemsworth a love story too, and some naach-gaana!
Pankaj Tripathi is wasted, Randeep Hooda gets a few scenes of note as an action star, and those who dig world cinema will be disappointed with the raw deal Golshifteh Farahani gets. Perhaps only Hemsworth fans won’t be disappointed. Extraction is a package tailor-made for the hunky superstar (it is his co-production, after all.)
India, more than most other parts, regularly gets to savour the best of latest action flicks. For Netflix, coming up with a formulaic action movie that looks decades old, would seem like a calculated risk. By lockdown logic, though, the film should be good enough to sail through.

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