'Extraction 2' Review: Chris Hemsworth returns as a gun-for-hire who pulls you completely in

The action flick is currently streaming on Netflix


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Published: Mon 19 Jun 2023, 12:54 PM

Last updated: Mon 19 Jun 2023, 12:55 PM

Tyler Rake was clinically dead when we last saw him at the end of Extraction, tumbling over a bridge in Bangladesh with a fatal, burbling bullet wound to his neck. But death is no match for Netflix.

Chris Hemsworth returns as the sad-sack, gun-for-hire Rake in Extraction 2 and you'll thank the giant streamer for such a nifty bit of resurrection because this franchise is pure cinematic adrenalin.

The new movie comes two years after a surprisingly good first installment, which saw Rake intervene in a feud between two rival drug dealers, survive numerous double-crosses, ask things like “How many hostiles onsite?” and lob an inexhaustible number of grenades.

How he survived it all stuns even his friends. Emerging from a coma in Extraction 2, he is stashed in a remote chalet in Gmunden, Austria, and told to chill out — learn to knit, go on hikes, try to reach mindfulness. “Enjoy retirement,” he is told. If he did there would be no Extraction 2.

Inevitably, a new extraction job comes along, so cue the getting-in-shape montage of Hemsworth doing pushups in the snow, splitting firewood, pushing a sled filled with rocks and some light ax throwing. Somehow, the Extraction movies lean into all the cliches but they don't feel old.

Hemsworth is re-joined here by Marvel Comic Universe–screenwriter Joe Russo and stunt-specialist-turned-director Sam Hargrave, but their ace-in-the-hole is their cinematographers, who create impossibly long single takes of complicated fighting or driving scenes that put the viewer directly into the action like few other thrillers.

Last time it was Newton Thomas Sigel. This time, Greg Baldi stages a breathless rescue from inside the winding tunnels of a brutal Georgian prison, complete with a full riot, a flaming police shield used as a weapon, a car chase with motorcycles and rockets, a race through a factory and then onto a train moving 40 mph, where helicopters are shot down and there's more hand-to-hand combat aboard. It's a 20-minute tour-de-force — the kind of sequence that brings you up from your seat to applaud, even if you're on your couch. And there's more than an hour to go.

Extraction 2 seems to have more money this time around — I'm sure they'd like to apologize for using a lot of it to trash downtown Vienna — but unlike other action franchises, it doesn't waste it on pretty excursions to Paris museums or five-star Tokyo hotels.

The strength of these movies has always been being down in the mud, streets and dirt, with the sound of spent cartridges pinging off concrete. These characters sweat and they bruise, even if many look fabulous in sunglasses.

The baddies here are similar to the first installment — a pair of powerful, scarred brothers who run heroin and guns in Georgia and are quiet-talking psychopaths, the kind who whisper a metaphor and then plunge a rake into your throat.

We learn a bit more about Rake and even meet members of his extended family, but he remains a one-note emotionally suppressed man. One knock on the franchise is that it hasn't been able to take advantage of Hemsworth’s humour, like Marvel has done with his Thor.

Family is at the heart of Extraction 2 as Rake gets in between this Georgian clan and also seeks to keep alive his trusted handler, Nik Khan (Golshifteh Farahani, seriously good, a franchise spin-off anyone?) and her cool-as-silk sidekick brother (Adam Bessa).

Death will only free one side and, along the way, a fancy rooftop gym will be turned into a charnel house, a skyscraper will be virtually razed by rocket fire, an airfield will explode in a fiery mess and a church will be wrecked — sorry, God. But death isn't the final word — in this franchise, that's relative.

Extraction 2

Director: Sam Hargrave

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Adam Bessa

Three stars out of four

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