Other than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no other film franchise has found an effective way to use Chris Hemsworth. Granted, he could headline worse franchises than the $30 billion juggernaut that has defined the last 15 years of popular culture. But of the bland and insipid grays of the Hunter unnecessarily vitriolic spite films of 2016 ghost hunters excited, Hemsworth couldn’t get a break for any major movie series where he doesn’t play the god of thunder. Even when he reunited with his MCU co-star Tessa Thompson for 2019 Men in Black: International, the results were deeply disappointing and forgettable. This film is not particularly horrible, it is just deflating. And it doesn’t even feature a Will Smith rap to liven it up. (wild west wild: 1, Men in Black: International:0.)
Then Netflix released Extraction in 2020, with Hemsworth at the helm and director Sam Hargrave at the helm. Netflix says the film was an instant hit, reaching nearly 100 million households in its first four weeks – at the time, the widest reach of any Netflix original film. Some elements of the film’s violence, visuals, and apparent white savior complex were rightly criticized, but ultimately it stuck with audiences because it was such a break from the overly referential and frustrating blockbuster production of the decade. former. And it spawned an immediate sequel, Extraction 2now on Netflix and likely to quickly break the viewing record for the first film.
The second half of the 2010s emphasized increasingly self-aware and light-hearted blockbuster films, awash in half-jokes. The Captain America meme “I got that reference!” is perhaps the best tonal summation for this period, with 2012 The Avengers be patient zero, and Men in Black: International perfecting the formula in an anti-art form. On the other hand, both Extraction and 2023 Extraction 2 place sincerity and spectacle above all else. Hargrave takes both films seriously and turns them into admirably effective blockbusters.
THE Extraction the movies have simple stories, focusing mostly on how many bodies mercenary soldier Tyler Rake (Hemsworth) can leave in his wake while extracting individuals from high-danger locations. Central to both films is how Rake’s paramilitary work is his way of coming to terms with his grief and guilt over his son’s death. Both films center the extractions around a young boy whom Rake is tasked with protecting; the allegory is about as subtle as the action, but it hits the audience hard because it’s presented with such seriousness and because it helps create a heartfelt journey of self-acceptance for Rake.
No extraction The film is particularly nuanced in its characterizations – they don’t get much more subtle than the metaphor where Tyler Rake puts out a fire on his arm by punching someone repeatedly. But there’s a sincerity to the stories that harkens back to a pre-snark, pre-meta, pre-referentialism era of action movies.
It may be hard for young moviegoers raised on the MCU to remember, but there was an era of action where a character named Tyler Rake could kill a man with a rake and leave that moment of silliness speak for itself, without having Kumail Nanjiani standing by to comment on it as the trademark Silly Guy. There’s a tonal sweet spot between the edgy angst of Snow White and the Hunter And Men in Black: Internationalironic snark, and Extraction lives there, where he can be serious but not without joy or humor.
The first one Extraction in 2020 was part of a new wave of action blockbusters that moved away from lighthearted banter and presented the action with a much more direct face: hits from the juggernaut of Top Gun: Maverick And Avatar: The Way of the Water; the acclaimed culminating episodes of Creed III And John Wick: Chapter 4; the global sensation that has been RRR. Action movies’ value of sincerity deteriorated throughout the 2010s, in favor of a wit and banter of self-deprecation and tension. But it has made a resurgence, and the spectacular behind-closed-doors action in Extraction films is part of this wave.
Where the action scenes of heavily CG-based, fantasy-driven thrillers like avengers, Transformers, jurassic worldAnd in fact, Men in Black: International are usually streamlined into amorphous blobs of pixels smashing into each other like toys having tantrums, the Extraction films offer action that’s clear and practical, and that feels legitimately ambitious. In particular, both films feature extended sequences designed to appear as continuous shots – the first film’s impressive oner was around 10 minutes long, while Extraction 2The one-hit sequence doubles that duration, going from an escape to a train chase with virtually no wiggle room between them.
The first film also features an excellent fight between Hemsworth and David Harbour, as well as a sequence where Hemsworth has to brawl with a group of heavily armed and highly motivated child soldiers. There’s a wry comedy value to these two scenes, but the script doesn’t overplay it, and Hemsworth’s performance emphasizes his frustration and desire to escape these situations, rather than having him waltz on liners. The sequel raises the bar for action on all levels.
Fundamentally, the Extraction movies show a love for the craft of directorship that elevates them from mindless chaos to something truly spectacular. These are not lazy movies. The sheer dynamism that tears them apart prevents them from feeling dishonest. And as we’ve seen before, there’s a strong correlation between making heartfelt movies, heartfelt stories, and heartfelt audience responses.
Sam Hargrave – much like Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, the directorial team behind the original John Wick – started his career as a stunt coordinator, but has since changed roles and become an incredibly impressive action director. He brings a wealth of experience and a love for action cinema to his work, and it shines through the sheer sincerity of Extraction and its sequel.
Crucial is the identity that this new wave of stunt-turned-action directors brings to their films: they produce blockbusters that feel genuinely engaged in the action, and less like the result of an algorithm or committee. Extraction 2 ratifies this change – neither of these movies gives a tantalizing glimpse into the human condition, but they’re both kickass movies grounded in a seriousness that feels fresh and exciting. Hopefully, they’ll also announce a new wave of heroes named after gardening tools. lawn mower man deserves its own sincere and serious return.
Extraction And Extraction 2 are streaming on Netflix now.