8.1 C
Munich
Sunday, February 25, 2024

Extraction 2 Review

Must read

As far as action sequels go, Extraction 2 learns from the ‘80s and ‘90s model of probably-should-be-dead heroes returning to combat like they’re some indestructible G.I. Joe. This series happily adheres to video game logic – there are massive Call of Duty: Modern Warfare vibes – and Extraction 2 doubles down on Chris Hemsworth playing a first-person shooter protagonist. At its best, Hemsworth rains bullets from miniguns atop speeding trains and beats the ever-loving bejesus out of baddies with flaming fists, gym equipment, you name it. At its worst, it falls victim to frustrating battlefield choreography that rattles and rolls, blurring the excellent stunt work in motion. It’s an exciting yet flawed sequel that packs a punch behind sometimes motion-sick camerawork, desperately trying to live up to films like The Raid or The Night Comes For Us and coming just close enough to work.

Hemsworth implausibly returns as superstar mercenary Tyler Rake, miraculously alive and unfazed by his injuries after his near-death Bangladesh mission thanks to hospital time, a few pushups, and some wood coppin’ before accepting his next contract. These are the cliches stuntman extraordinaire-turned-director Sam Hargrave leans into, except without adopting the sillier attitude of Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables. Writer Joe Russo (one half of the Marvel-famous Russo Brothers) doesn’t waste time getting Rake to the promised extracting in a movie that never pretends to be anything but guns-hot tactical thrill-seeking. Details are interchangeable as to who’s the target, villain affiliations, and Rake’s backstory, but that’s less of an issue once Rake flips his safeties off.

There is a glorious feel to Extraction 2 that likens momentum and on-screen action to shooter gameplay, whether the camera is positioned right behind Rake or the way he spits in death’s face like he’s got regenerating health and unlimited lives. This approach can be extremely entertaining – there’s a divisive long take (with hidden edits) people seem to find either enthralling or distracting as Rake escorts his precious cargo out of danger that’s right out of a Modern Warfare campaign. Speaking of Call of Duty, digital landscapes are noticeable when Rake is defending his getaway train, cheapening the overall product in glimpses that feel a bit underwhelming from a technical perspective.

Rake spits in death’s face like he’s got regenerating health and unlimited lives.


Tornike Gogrichiani’s portrayal of Rake’s seedy adversary, Georgian crime boss Zurab, is textbook Eastern European badassery that sets the tone for his miniature army’s imposing presence. Hemsworth’s performance is bolstered by Gogrichiani’s ruthless seeker of vengeance, unlocking the ‘80s action hero swagger once flaunted by Schwarzenegger and Stallone. Of course, don’t expect a Greecian epic like The Odyssey from Russo’s screenplay – there’s just enough storytelling to get Rake back into trouble, and that’s all.

Rake is a man possessed when executing his orders, brutally obliterating any enemies in his path using whatever means available to him. Hemsworth nails Rake’s made-of-legends lone gunman persona as much as he does the physical choreography of prison yard brawls or martial arts takedowns. If you were a fan of the breakneck action in Extraction, you’ll be pleased to hear Extraction 2 throws heavier punches and ups the ante.

On the other hand, Hargrave and cinematographer Greg Baldi repurpose a most frustrating blemish on countless contemporary American action films: shaky “thick of war” cinematography. We’re talking Cloverfield levels of bouncy camerawork. The frame jostles and tumbles around as Rake rocks and socks through a Georgian prison, trying to make you feel like you’re a part of the action – or, at least that’s the intended effect. As the camera operator runs on foot behind actors – swaying around like we’re now watching a found-footage horror film – Rake’s desperate fight for survival becomes a blur of swirling bodies and frantic focal zoom-ins. What’s meant to be a perspective-based technique that amps intensity does the opposite, weakening Hargrave’s delivery of bone-crunching violence.

We’re talking Cloverfield levels of bouncy camerawork.


For as intricate and delightfully punishing as the choreography can be, Baldi’s insistence in crucial moments to inefficiently capture flowing feats of henchperson elimination is a ding against Extraction 2 because that’s all that it really has going for it. There’s rarely a time where this movie elevates itself above being an action-first shoot-’em-up, which is fine but it lacks any emotional weight to drive its hero or raise its stakes in any meaningful way. Supporting characters like Rake’s associates Nik (Golshifteh Farahani) and Yaz (Adam Bessa) exist to help develop the lead character over themselves, in addition to providing backup when situations become too sticky. That seems like wasted potential, since Farahani makes a solid case to star in her own combat-heavy franchise. Hargrave brings a level of self-awareness based on his stunt work, which allows Farahani and Bessa to flash their action chops even as prototypical sidekicks.

The Top 25 Action Movies

Verdict

Extraction 2 is an action-packed movie that has absolutely no intention of rewriting the rules of the genre. Director Sam Hargrave and star Chris Hemsworth honor the extraness of action sequels that go to any means necessary to thrust their seemingly invincible heroes into another round of shootouts, beatdowns, and physical punishment galore. Some of that is lost in the annoyingly shaky camera and a few effects shots are questionable, but thankfully, the important things are done right. The way Tyler Rake brushes off injuries like he’s secretly Thor with a gun and how its storytelling so clearly wants to guide us from one indulgent fight sequence to the next without overthinking anything are admirable, as long as action for action’s sake is what you’re into. With a steely reserve and killer instinct, Extraction 2 thrives as a buffet of brutality that plays back the mercenary thriller hits with a fresh coat of camouflage paint.

- Advertisement -

More articles

- Advertisement -

Latest article