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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Extraction 2: How They Made That Insane 21-Minute One-Shot

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Explosive, mind-bending action returns front and center with Netflix's Extraction 2, a sequel to the 2020 Chris Hemsworth mercenary adventure written by Joe Russo and directed by MCU stunt master/Captain America stunt double Sam Hargrave. Hargrave made his directorial debut with Extraction, which instantly placed him among the top action directors working today thanks to the ambitious intensity of the set pieces and a very impressive 12-minute oner/single take.

Extraction 2 not only ups the ante, action-wise, but it doubles it, unleashing a diabolical oner that lasts over 20 minutes. IGN spoke to both Hemsworth, who returns as black ops specialist Tyler Rake, and director Hargrave in order to dig into this very elaborate, difficult scene.

"The rehearsal process [for the oner] was four or five months from conception to finding the locations," Hargrave revealed, "mapping out the path, and then getting the actors doing all their moves.

"Then shooting, it took 29 days, I believe, to complete."

That's right. The time it usually might take to shoot a full movie was given to this very specific sequence, with the intent of melting viewers' faces. It's a sequence that finds Rake actually on fire, which was a stunt that Hemsworth did — well, had to do, of course — himself.

"Seven or eight takes I think we had," Hemsworth shared. "It was fun. As soon as my arm lit up, it was 'action'! Because it would burn for probably 15 seconds or something, and by the end of that little sequence of punches and kicks and so on, if the fire wasn't out, my instructions was to pat it out myself. It felt cool. It felt fun."

"Hopefully it'll look cool," Hargrave added.

It was fun. As soon as my arm lit up, it was 'action'!


Most everything you see these days gets enhanced digitally, from an effects standpoint, but this meticulous moment was almost 100% real and practical, according to Hemsworth. "Ninety-five percent of what you see on camera has been captured in the moment," he said. "And then for me, that's so refreshing as an audience member, but also, the immersive experience as the actor.

"I think we've all grown a little fatigued of the large, big, stunning visual effects. As amazing as they are, it ends up looking like you're watching a video game," Hemsworth continued. "But it's just an authenticity and a grit and a truth to what you're seeing, because that's real sweat. That's real exhaustion that we're going through. You're grinding away in this fight sequences, and I don't think you can really recreate that on a sound stage, green screen, and so on."

Speaking of video games, Hargrave didn't grow up with them, despite now being an expert in a specific art form for a specific genre of film. The last game he played was GoldenEye 007, for the N64 – and it wasn't even his.

"I never spent much time with them, but I think there's a presence of video games in popular culture that is hard to not feel inspired by," he explained. "Because, it's all over the place, whether or not you play them. And I think that what we share with these Extraction movies and certain video games is the immersive experience for an audience member. So for our movies, you're sitting back and you're watching it.

"However, "he added, "I want the feeling during this one-take sequence to be as if you, an audience member, were participating. So by the end of it, you should be tired, you should be catching your breath, because the nature of the camera and the stunts that these performers are doing is very intense. And that adrenaline and that energy that's expended on camera, you can feel it. It's a transfer of energy and that lends itself to that immersive experience."

What we share with these Extraction movies and certain video games is the immersive experience for an audience member.


Hemsworth, now a veteran of both superhero stories and action films, considers the "prison yard sequence" of Extraction 2's one take (yes, it's so long that there are actual separate battles) to be his favorite stunt of his career.

"[It was] the most complex and had the most amount of choreography and moves that I've ever been a part of," he said. "And once we completed that, it felt like we had big tasks ahead of us. But once we checked that off, I had a big sigh of relief and a lot of pressure was lifted. And there was 300 or 400 extras or background artists, stunt performers within that shot. And it was shot as a oner. So everything had to be seamless. It was like a beautifully choreographed dance that all had to be perfect. So a lot of pressure, but the reward was hugely, hugely profound and exciting and collaborative. Yeah, it's pretty special."


Extraction 2 is available on Netflix now.

Interviews by Scott Collura.

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