Extraction Review

When Ovi (Rudraksh Jaiswal), the teenage son of a ruthless Indian drug lord, is kidnapped by a rival, Australian mercenary Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) is deployed to Dhaka with orders to retrieve the boy, and shoot pretty much anyone who gets in his way. But as he gets in deeper, Rake finds that he’s prepared to risk everything to get Ovi out alive…

by Chris Hewitt |
Updated on
Release Date:

24 Apr 2020

Original Title:


The first thing you should know about Extraction is that, yes, Chris Hemsworth’s character in this relentless actioner is called Tyler Rake, and yes, in a triumph for nominative determinism, he actually kills a couple of bad guys with a rake. So we should probably thank our lucky stars that he wasn’t called Keith Dildo.

The sight of Hemsworth going nuts with a garden implement in a manner that would frankly appall Alan Titchmarsh, seconds after laying waste to an entire room of bad guys, is proof positive, if you hadn’t already twigged after half an hour of bloody headshots and bloodier language, that this latest collaboration between the Australian man-mountain and the Russo brothers is miles away from the Avengers and their japes with capes. Hemsworth’s Rake isn’t so much Thor, more thucking thurious.


We first meet Rake in media res, as is the vogue, before whipping back to a calmer time, pre-mayhem. He’s the sort of guy who leaps into a lagoon and sits contemplatively underwater. It’s clear that Rake has issues. He has a Tortured Past. He has Nightmare Flashback Disorder. But he’s also a pure killing machine, part-Terminator, part-Jack Reacher. Which comes in handy when Rake finds himself the target of not just a formidable Bangladeshi gang, but corrupt cops and soldiers too.

When Hemsworth goes full John Wick in intricately choreographed showdowns, Extraction is bruising, brutal knockabout fun.

It’s here where Hemsworth, and director Sam Hargrave, graduating to the director’s chair after stunt duties on the Russos’ Marvel movies and directing the second unit on Avengers: Endgame, show off their action muscle. Literally and figuratively. Hargrave was instrumental in mounting Atomic Blonde’s incredible one-shot action sequence, and it shows. Even if this film’s own much ballyhooed oner, which follows Rake in a running battle with a rival and takes in foot chases and car chases and tense stand-offs (oh, my), doesn’t quite match Atomic Blonde or, more recently, 1917, it’s still an entertaining exercise in immersing the audience in Rake’s desperate fight for survival. And when Hemsworth goes full John Wick and starts demolishing entire squadrons in intricately choreographed showdowns, using nothing but brawn and a boatload of bullets, Extraction is bruising, brutal knockabout fun.

It’s when the film slows down that it perhaps doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Twists are fairly telegraphed, clichés are flirted with and, apart from a speech which cements Rake’s relationship with Ovi (Rudraksh Jaiswal), the young kid whose life the mercenary is protecting at all costs, we barely get to know the main character. And while Hemsworth is skilful at suggesting the chasm of pain that drives him, it’s interesting that writer Joe Russo lets us peer more into the inner life of one of the supporting characters, Randeep Hooda’s Suraj, as he becomes embroiled in the hunt for Rake and Ovi.

That’s an admirable result of the decision to stage the action in Dhaka. The hurly-burly of the Bangladeshi city’s streets, with tuk-tuks and scooters hurtling about with wild abandon (leading to a particularly funny moment in a tense face-off), give Extraction a look and feel unlike any other recent American action movies. There’s an interesting sub-plot about a young kid getting in over his head with a drug dealer, which perhaps deserved more screen time. And the supporting cast that Hargrave (who also cameos as a kind of living beard that can kill people from a thousand yards) assembles around Hemsworth is filled with interesting names and faces — Priyanshu Painyuli, Jaiswal, Shataf Figar — that Western audiences might be glimpsing for the first time. Hopefully, not the last.

There’s always a danger, in a scenario like this, of Rake adding White Saviour Syndrome to the Tortured Past and Nightmare Flashbacks Disorder. Hargrave and his big-name producers (including, of course, Hemsworth) seem very aware of that. So, for much of the film, Rake sees Ovi merely as a commodity to keep alive and, when the emotional stakes are raised, he’s not the only character striving to keep the boy from a bullet. Whether that’s enough to avoid the perception of a white hero bludgeoning his way into an Asian city and saving the day is still very much up for debate. But Extraction has been conceived as a star vehicle for Hemsworth, an excellent actor who’s perhaps struggled for a signature role outside of Thor. And there’s little doubt that he rises admirably to the occasion, never more so than when reminding wave after wave of bad guys that — just as Sideshow Bob once found to his chagrin — it’s incredibly painful to step on a Rake.

Powered by the charisma and physicality of its star, this often gruelling action flick does more than enough to suggest that Hemsworth has found his genre, once he hangs up a certain hammer.
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