Although the title triggers thoughts of a highly unpleasant visit to the dentist, Extraction 2 more than measures up to expectations stirred by the gritty and massively lethal non-stop action of the initial entry last year. Stuntman-turned-director Sam Hargrove clearly made it his mission here to not only turn up the voltage even further but also to register a significant greater body count than he did the first time around. He also pulls off staggering long-take action shots that are blatantly show-offy but jaw-dropping nonetheless, unmatched in their seamless creation. Even seen-it-all violence geeks and gamers will be humbled, impressed and mightily turned on. Since the first entry has been touted as the most-watched Netflix original ever with 99 million views registered in the first four weeks alone, it’s no surprise that the wheels are in already in motion for a third installment to be onscreen a year from now.
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Based on the 2014 graphic novel Ciudad by Andre Park, screenwriters Joe and Anthony Russo and artist Fernando Leon Gonzalez, the franchise starter was notable for its single-mindedness of purpose, its dedication to delivering action and little else; there’s virtually no small talk, scarcely any moments of quiet or intimacy that would allow for such baggage as intimate conversation, a nice dinner, a warm bath. No, where Tyler Rake goes, guns go with him and he never seems to run out of ammo — nor does the film. But inquiring minds want to know; has anyone ever had that name Rake in real life? True, in the film it’s a surname, but bambinos will likely be named after him nonetheless.
It’s hard to think of many films more fundamentally violent to their core than the two Extraction movies; others stop to talk once in a while, but this one mostly foregoes that and just fires away, often madly, extravagantly, gratuitously; for much of the time, it seems like that’s almost all the film is about, which will be just fine with a large portion of its intended audience.
At the outset, Chris Hemsworth’s Rake falls off a high bridge and plunges deep into the water, only to wash up onshore, undergo a slow rehab and begin to find his way back. No one on the team, beginning with writer Joe Russo, seems to have worked arduous late nights trying to devise clever plot twists or write shimmering dialogue. All the same, they nonetheless might occasionally have worked overtime devising fresh sources of peril and inner resilience to fill out more than two hours’ worth of severe jeopardy they’re forced to overcome.
At the latter, the filmmakers have made out rather better. Renewing his strength and resolve at a distant cabin and assembling a small team, Rake makes it his business to help the beautiful Mia (Olga Kurylenko) and offspring to get away from lethal gangsters who have also been incarcerated. At this Rake is outstanding, and the best sequences in the film — and they are numerous — employ technology that allows small cameras to move like crazy and go places they’ve only recently been able to go at all. Even seasoned pros and cinephiles will gape and wonder how they pulled off any number of the shots and sequences here.
The main reason to see this otherwise rather dour enterprise is to witness the very long continuous takes that capture astonishing action with no interruption. Hargrove earned his stripes handling stunt work and fight choreography on numerous action blockbusters (installments of The Hunger Games, Captain America, Suicide Squad, Atomic Blonde, two Avengers movies) and any number of big set-pieces here show off incredible action moves the likes of which would have been unthinkable until very recently.
Some of the images unequivocally astonish in their fluidity; extreme circumstances and unfettered cameras have given birth to images such as you’ve never seen, to allow footage to be taken without crew members needing to be there. Hargrove makes the most of this, and there are definitely numerous shots in both Extraction features thus far that no one could have pulled off with older and more cumbersome equipment. One example: a climactic sequence on top of a towering new glass skyscraper hotel in Austria, where a treacherous life-or-death struggle is enacted.
Hemsworth didn’t have much to say in the first installment and doesn’t here either. He certainly looks good, even when he’s beaten up, and he can carry the film when permitted to. But the film needed a center, a home base, and the script doesn’t provide much of one. All the same, you’ve never seen action sequences quite like the ones prominently featured here that could never have been pulled off previously, as the camera essentially travels anywhere it wants to under exceptionally rough and dangerous circumstances. This may not be a particularly good film, but you’ll definitely see things here in a way that you’ve never seen them before.
This goal has been accomplished significantly through technology dramatically, it’s more than that, especially in Extraction 2, where Hargrove cranks everything up a notch as he and his creative intimates have created extended action sequences that look like they’re done without cuts; as you watch, insane levels of mayhem flood the screen as Rake races hither and yon taking down baddies in all sorts of circumstances, racing between one hot spot to another, sometimes commandeering a vehicle in mad surges of action, wallowing in all manner of violence and getting plenty beat up in the process. But, of course, he always prevails. It may be all he’s good at, but when he’s locked in he’s always unmatched.
Even Rake admits, “I’m a bit of a legend now.”
Title: Extraction 2
Release date: June 16, 2023
Director: Sam Hargrove
Screenwriter: Joe Russo
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Adam Bessa, Olga Kurylenko, Daniel Bernhardt, Tinatin Dalakishvili
Running time: 2 hr 2 min
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