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"Extraction 2" 4K Review

One of the few above-average Netflix original productions was 2020's Extraction. Directed by former stuntman Sam Hargrave (who doubled Chris Evans' Captain America), he brought the same philosophy for shooting action as the John Wick series, eschewing shaky cam and edit fu for elaborately choreographed sequences filmed wide and long to show the performers actually executing the combat moves. 

The centerpiece of the otherwise forgettable story was a 14-minute-long oner (pronounced "one-ner"; an extended uninterrupted shot, sometimes pieced together from many separate takes masked by whip pans or other distractions) consisting of car chases and close-quarters combat through the streets of Bangladesh, much filmed by Hargrave himself, strapped to the front of chase vehicles, operating the camera.

The movie ended with a gravely-wounded Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) tumbling off a bridge into a river, presumably a watery grave, but a coda implied that he'd survived. Well, duh, considering Rake is back in action for Extraction 2 which opens with his fall into the river, his being recovered and flown to Dubai (why?) for a lengthy, against the odds, recovery which leaves him walking with a cane and an arm in a sling.

One day he comes home to the rural Austrian Alps cabin he'd been set up with to find Alcott (Idris Elba) waiting for him with a job to do. Rake protests that he's retired, but the job is from his ex-wife, Mia (Olga Kurylenko, who I didn't even recognize), and involves extracting her sister Ketevan Radiani (Tinatin Dalakishvili) and her children Sandro (Andro Japaridze) and Nina (Mariam & Marta Kovziashvili) from the prison in Georgia (the one by Russia, not the one by Florida) where they're being held with her husband, a Major Crime Kingpin whose brother continues to run things on the outside. 

So after a couple minute montage of training to fully recuperate, Rake heads off on the mission assisted by associates Nik Khan (Golshifteh Farahani) and her brother Yaz (Adam Bessa) from the first movie. What seems to be going smoothly rapidly goes off the rails for the dumbest reason leading to the aforementioned oner which begins in the bowels of the prison with mild hand-to-hand combat to a prison yard riot to a wild car chase ending up on a speeding train. While a sophisticated viewer will be able to discern where the seams are in wild ride - same as with the feature-length WWI gimmick movie 1917 - it's still an impressive feat and the centerpiece of the film.

Which is sort of the problem because while there are a couple of other major set pieces afterwards, the movie has blown the bulk of its load in the first hour. Afterwards, there's a lot of downtime for processing feelings and hating on the stupidity of Sandro. If you thought the kid from the first Extraction was a moron, you'll be screaming at your TV at the dumb things this dumb kid does which gets a lot of people killed in the process. Twerp.

 Screenwriter Joe Russo, who co-directed four massive Marvel movies including the final Avengers films is a good director, but based on his two Extraction scripts and the already-forgotten Netflix actioner The Gray Man, he's a mediocre writer. We don't need elaborate, sometimes too elaborate, mythologies like the John Wick series has developed, but to describe the non-action parts as inconsequential and skeletal almost implies too much heft to them. Most action flicks have borderline irrelevant plots which merely exist as a clothesline to hang the action from, but unfamiliar actors playing cartoonish people acting aggressively stupidly isn't great even by the low standards of the genre.

 Hemsworth is solid portraying the angst-ridden Rake as far as the material gives him something to act and Farahani needs to make more American films. But the real star is Hargraves who takes inspiration from fellow stuntmen turned directors Chad Stahelski (the John Wick series) and David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Bullet Train, Atomic Blonde) to reinvent and expand the style of action filmmaking, steering it away from the shaky cam/edit fu noise Paul Greengrass unleashed with the Bourne sequels back towards a form more related to old musicals and swashbuckler pictures.

While the stakes aren't as high due to Extraction 3 having already been ordered by Netflix and the story and characters are disposable, Extraction 2 is a respectable sugar fix of down and dirty action filmmaking without preaching or scolding.

Score: 6/10. Catch it on Netflix.


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