I love that the surface-level moral of this story, is that you should always do what your carer says...or you'll be kidnapped and held for ransom. Teenagers of the world take note!
As has been hinted at, this story begins with Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of a drug lord who is currently in prison. Ovi's primary caretaker in the meantime is Saju (Randeep Hooda), an ex-special forces operative, who reminds Ovi that he should not be hanging out with friends after school, and should instead be coming straight home - just as his father wishes. Ovi nods, understanding that this is the case. However, it is clear as day that he is incredibly lonely. This is illustrated in one instance, through a beautiful long shot of Ovi sitting alone at a piano, in a wide open space, with no one to play for or talk to. As is so often the case with lonely teens, Ovi resolves to sneak out and meet his friends at a club. But, alas! Ovi is kidnapped under the instruction of a rival drug lord, and thus our story begins!
Whilst Ovi laments his life choices with a bag over his head in an evil lair, Saju seeks help to rescue his charge. Enter the delightful Chris Hemsworth and his even more delightful Australian accent. I cannot stress enough how refreshing it is to hear a natural Australian accent on film. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty grateful for any Australian representation in Hollywood, but so often what appears on the screen is a Croc Dundee stereotype. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, particularly if you're watching Crocodile Dundee at the time. If, however, you're watching anything else, it often feels as though the accent is being hammed up for the purpose of creating humour. I'm okay with laughing at myself, but these hammed up accents seem to exist solely for the benefit of foreign (to Australia) audiences; Australians become a meme on the screen. The Aussie accent definitely varies, and is stronger in some places than others, but what Hemsworth presents in this movie, is the greatest representation of the Aussie accent that I've heard in a non-Aussie production in recent times. In other words, he actually sounds like a great majority of Australians do. ...I mean, he is Australian...you'd expect it to be good...but I was ecstatic upon hearing it. Anyway, enough about accents!
Hemsworth plays Tyler Rake, a black market mercenary, who is enlisted to help recover Ovi, and essentially takes the job for money. Things quickly head south, and Tyler is left to decide whether or not to fulfill his original mission, considering it is now incredibly dangerous and he may not end up with the money he initially sought. Tyler is a character that I quickly fell in love with (and not just for authentic accent reasons). He's certainly not flawless, and this is evidenced on countless occasions throughout the film. He is empathetic, but also hardened by experiences, he's bad at good-byes and he's the kind of person who isn't afraid to ask for help when it's needed. The combination of these qualities makes you want to root for this hero...and then, there is the moment when, rather than killing a teenage boy who means to kill him, he slaps the kid in the face and says, "Piss off!" It's actually perfect.
This film's greatest strength is its action sequences and the way that it builds its tension. I'm not going to beat around the bush, I don't mind an action sequence, but I tend to get bored after a while, particularly if I'm not emotionally invested. I think my partner resents me to this day, because I lack the same passion that he feels for films like Pacific Rim. Look, curse me if you must, but I can only watch robots and/or monsters take swings at each other for so long before I lose interest. This action film is different for me. I felt a strong connection to the characters - even the ones that weren't played by Hemsworth. The fight sequences are lengthy, but they never failed to have me gripping the edge of my seat, for fear. The car chases have a similar effect. Extraction was directed by Sam Hargrave, a man who has taken home numerous awards for stunt work and action choreography. It's no wonder then, that this film's action sequences work so well and have such high stakes. I was not bored. Not once.
I suppose where this film might fall down, is in predictability. There are a few twists throughout, that are signposted so clearly, that you can guess the entire twist from the signpost. Likewise, I suppose if you were an action film aficionado, Extraction may not hold the same uniqueness in your eyes, that it holds in mine. Overall, 'predictability' didn't weigh too heavily on me whilst watching, as the characters are incredibly likable, the action sequences intense and the story interesting.
SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH:
From the beginning of this film, Tyler is seen testing his limits; toeing the line of death, and whilst on the cusp, catching blurry glimpses of people from his past. At one point, the wise young Ovi says, "You drown, not by falling into the river, but by staying submerged in it," (don't worry, he read it in a book). Skipping to the end of the film, Tyler takes a few bullets and indeed, falls into a river. Suddenly, the imagery of the blurry people becomes clear, and we assume Tyler has died. Then we are gifted with some footage of Ovi, eight months later. He dives into the school pool, and when he emerges, a blurry figure can be seen in the background of the shot. Is it Tyler? Did he escape death's icy grip? These are the questions we are supposed to ask ourselves, and this is the one part of the film that I didn't enjoy. I almost feel that it cheapened the ending and Tyler's personal sacrifices. I'll be the first to admit, that had this film not ended in the same fashion, I would have been more than willing to watch a sequel, or even a franchise exploring Tyler's mercenary exploits. But Tyler isn't Captain America and he most certainly isn't Thor. He took multiple bullet wounds in a short period of time, and was bleeding profusely before he fell off a high bridge, into a river. I wish they had left him certifiably dead. Although, it's my understanding that Hargrave selected this ambiguous ending to appeal to both the pessimists like me, and the optimists, who wanted Tyler Rake to live. I get it, you can't please everyone...but I personally wish that everyone agreed with me on this point, so that maybe you could.
Regardless of my thoughts in the spoiler-y paragraph above, the truth remains that if and when this film is released on DVD, it will undoubtedly find its way into my collection. I could easily watch this movie multiple times and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes: action films, Aussie accents or vision of Chris Hemsworth slapping teens in the face.