Last we left ‘Extraction’ hero Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) was, well, was died. He had been beaten, hit multiple times and thrown into a river, where he supposedly was (again) died. And yet… in the final moments of the Sam Hargrave-directed film, a shadowy figure emerged, who looks a bit like Tyler, albeit very undead, to watch over his young charge so many months after his apparent (and, sorry, last here) death. But, in the world of blockbuster cinema, no one ever is Truly dead (or, at least, no one is ever allowed to be truly dead, as long as test audiences have a say), much less an ass-kicking Aussie mercenary with a secret soft side, and then: “Extraction 2 “.
The fact that Tyler isn’t actually dead served as the backbone of Netflix’s action sequel marketing campaign, complete with the awesome hashtag #TylerRakeLives and its accompanying “arm on fire” emoji (which is basically this franchise in a nutshell). So it should come as no surprise that Hargrave’s sequel opens with the badass’ taut resurrection. Flashbacks remind us of the many injuries suffered by the black market mercenary at the end of his latest mission to extract an innocent little boy. Tyler is soon pulled out of the river and essentially brought back to life – we were told many times that he was “clinically dead!” See! – thanks to the great medical care and sheer willpower of her handler Nik (Golshifteh Farahani) and her wise-cracking brother Yaz (Adam Bessa).
But what does Tyler have to live for? In the first “Extraction”, Tyler’s greatest asset was his utter disregard for his own safety – inspired by his deep sense of guilt for abandoning his young son as he was dying of cancer, a traumatic storyline referenced in the first film, and it exploded further in its sequel. But with his body almost irrevocably broken, that’s not an option. Just as Tyler is recovering in Dubai, Joe Russo’s script takes us to Georgia, where we are introduced to criminal brothers Zurab (Tornike Gogrichiani) and the incarcerated Davit (Tornike Bziava).
It’s clear the duo will somehow intersect with Tyler and his team, and Russo offers a quick reveal of who’s actually to be drawn — this time, a family of three (Tinatin Dalakishvili as mom, Andro Jafaridze as her son Sandro , and sisters Mariami and Marta Kovziashvili traded as younger sister Nina) with a latent connection to Tyler. This ensures that the sick mercenary has no choice but to get back in shape and return to the field. (It doesn’t hurt that Idris Elba appears as the nameless, shadowy figure offering Tyler the job, an utterly obvious offer to further expand this franchise that’s also impossible to think of.)
Kick off the ‘Rocky IV’ style training montage – Austria replaces the Soviet Union, though the moments where an angry Tyler chops wood and pushes heavy loads through snowdrifts smack of that classic boxing drama — and soon, Tyler is breaking his way through a Georgian prison to rescue the terrified trio AND fighting countless villains in the process (Davit is just one of literally dozens). Hargrave’s 2020 directorial debut boasted a jaw-dropping 12-minute one-shot action sequence that saw Tyler make his way through Dhaka, Bangladesh, which Hemsworth, the director and their talented stunt team literally doubled down on, edited into a 21-minute sequence designed to look like a single shot.
This takes Tyler and company through (deep breath) the initial prison break, a crunchy one-on-one with the pissed-off Davit, a huge prison yard melee (see: arm on fire), a car chase at high energy (in which many baddies die in rather funny ways), a desperate race through a creaky factory, a crazy sequence of train sets (complete with whirling helicopters full of baddies and lots of hand-to-hand combat), and an explosive conclusion . Here’s how the first deed of Hargrave’s film closes, an instantly iconic sequence that puts the film a step above both its predecessor and the rest of its Netflix action brethren. Mostly, it deserves — hell, almost demands — to be seen on the big screen, even if a precious few Netflix subscribers will get that chance.
While the original Netflix action movies have proven to be big hits for the streamer – the first ‘Extraction’, plus ‘Red Notice’, ‘The Mother’ and ‘The Gray Man’ currently rank among the top 10 movies of all the times of Netflix – few get a theatrical spot when they are released. (A handful of titles still get limited runs before reaching service.) The care and precision that goes into “Extraction 2’s most brutal and bombastic sequences,” from that insane one-r to a later battle royale set in a skyscraper , offer some of the best examples of what Netflix-backed talent can churn out, the kind of thing that still belongs in a cinema with a raucous crowd. And while few viewers are likely to disconnect from “Extraction 2” during these moments, at least based on the popularity of the first film and the anticipation for it, it’s unfortunate that only a limited pool will see it in prime condition, where the exclusion is (ideally) not even an option.
The high energy of the film’s action sequences also helps mask some of its less thrilling elements, including frequent exposition, a thinly drawn antagonist, and thumping flashbacks of Tyler’s previous heartbreaks that are mostly pointless. But when this thing moves — and, wow, does it ever — it offers one of the best examples of what Netflix dollars can buy. He also leaves with greater emotion (including that generated by shining a brighter spotlight on the gorgeous Farahani and Bessa), a new dimension to the ever-evolving Hemsworth, and proof that the action franchise can capture old thrills with new stories. It won’t look so great on your TV or computer, but that’s a mission for another day.
“Extraction 2” will begin streaming on Netflix on Friday June 16th.