Extraction 2 review: A satisfying sequel for Chris Hemsworth's mercenary
Tyler Rake returns for more quality action – even if the script is stuffed with predictable beats and trite pronouncements.
As his horticultural surname suggests, action man Tyler Rake is made of sturdy, robustly practical stuff. 2020’s Extraction culminated with our hero clutching his neck after sustaining an apparently fatal gunshot wound, before plunging ominously into a river.
However, you can’t keep a good extractor down and this kind-hearted mercenary has been resurrected for a sequel, with Chris Hemsworth returning to fill Tyler’s boots and audacious rescues once again on the agenda.
Former stuntman Sam Hargrave did a decent job directing last time and he’s back calling the shots, working from a script by Marvel favourite Joe Russo, who also penned the first film (and who produces alongside his brother Anthony).
As you’d expect with a second instalment, the ante is very much upped. A wilderness training montage bridges the gap between Tyler being “clinically dead” and hurling himself into the requisite heroics, with the assignment this time a prison break.
Tyler and his team are tasked with freeing the family of incarcerated Georgian gangster Davit Radiani (Tornike Bziava) from the cell in which they are languishing. He’s been hired for the mission by a mystery man played by Idris Elba (who, before you get excited, has very little screentime here).
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To carry it out, Tyler reunites with brother and sister operatives Nik and Yaz Khan (Golshifteh Farahani and Adam Bessa).
They’re liberating Davit’s wife Ketevan (Tinatin Dalakishvili) and his children, Sandro and Nina (Andro Japaridze and Mariami Kovziashvili), with the team’s intention to whisk the kids as far away from their controlling father’s clutches as possible.
Tyler’s efforts pit him against Davit’s menacing brother, Zurab (Tornike Gogrichiani), a powerful crime syndicate boss who throws his considerable resources, and innumerable minions, at the problem.
Shorn of his Thor locks and laidback charisma, Hemsworth is more of a blunt instrument here, but remains a commanding presence in fights that require him to take on hordes of foes, demonstrating his preposterous physicality in the process.
Employing not much more than a furrowed brow, the actor is less effective in emotional scenes that find the film attempting to illuminate Tyler’s tragic backstory by introducing his ex-wife Mia (Olga Kurylenko), though a script stuffed with predictable beats and trite pronouncements doesn’t help.
A handful of quips and enjoyably silly moments aside (including Tyler watching Dancing with the Stars with his dog and chickens), Extraction 2 largely eschews humour, but it plays up the absurdity of its action in a way that’s very entertaining, with Tyler kicking arse using whatever comes to hand (A box of nails! A dumbbell!).
And the fluidity of the film’s camerawork can be breath-taking, as one set-piece rolls excitingly into the next. Particularly eye-catching is a 21-minute sequence that gives the illusion of being captured in a single shot, hurtling from prison break to car chase to escape by henchman-infested train.
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With the film once again taking inspiration from the Raid and John Wick franchises in its punchy approach to action, things get highly fantastical here, yet Gogrichiani is an effective villain (nasty but not too OTT), and Extraction 2’s commitment to performing its stunts practically pays off, resulting in some memorable dust-ups.
Victories feel grubby, bloody and hard won, and there’s acknowledgement, at least, of the toll the fighting takes, with the visibly exhausted participants adding a welcome touch of realism amidst the abundant insanity.
Fans of the first film should be satisfied then, and the quality of the action is easily enough to justify Tyler’s return. However, if a third instalment is on the cards (as the open ending indicates), then it might be worth spending a bit more time on the story.
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