EXTRACTION 2 Review: Hemsworth And Hargrave Still Strong Contenders For Action Elite
By no small miracle Rake has survived his previous mission. Barely out of recovery he is hired to extract Ketevan Radiani and her children from a prison in Georgia. They have been forced to live there while her husband, Davit, brother of gangster Zurab, servies his sentence. They are there for their own safety from enemies of the Radiani family. Someone wants to get Ketevan and her children out of the prison and somewhere safe and Rake is one of only a handful of people on the planet who has the skills to do that.
When not emptying rounds into bodies and vehicles the story (fittingly on Father's Day weekend on its release day?) is focused a lot on fathers. Hemsworth’s Rake is a more emotionally overwhelmed character than the leading contender from another film series (care to guess who?). Rake struggles with thoughts that he abandoned his wife and son in their time of despair. From the beginning of the film Ketevan’s son Sandro thinks he wants to be like his father and uncle and become a gangster, a Nagazi. Despite their circumstances in the prison and their father being the reason that they are living there in the first place Sandro believes he should follow in his father's footsteps. Not so much wants as he thinks he should, to protect his mom. And gangboss Zurab is driven by an abusive upbringing from his father, often replaying harsh lessons from his childhood in his mind as he prepares his next move to get to his brother’s family back.
There is a noticeable drop in energy in the movie in the in-between moments when the story leans into character development. This is not in a ‘let’s take a moment to catch our breath’ kind of way. Perhaps we have been conditioned by that other popular contemporary to look for anything but moments of personal reflection and growth. We did not ask for character growth from Rake but we got it anyways.
The opening of the film sets the scene. Rake is rescued and is recovering when he receives the call into action. The ruthlessness of Zurab is properly established in another scene. The dire living conditions of the prison are obvious in another. When the request comes through to Rake he rolls into town with Nik and her brother Yaz from the first chapter. The players have been explained, the stage is set, let’s blow shit up!
The action kicks off with the extraction of Ketevan and her children. This is the big set piece that has everyone talking- the twenty minute ‘oner’. Repeat viewings will uncover where the hidden cuts are but for now, yes, yes it is very impressive and a hell of a way to start the show. We had already seen some of it in the trailers which only scratches the surface of the entire set piece. Searching for hidden cuts in the moment will only take away from the overall experience, just let if flow over you the first time around.
From there it is a chase across Europe as everyone attempts to flee the wrath and resources of Zurab. Everything is so well choreographed from the helicopter and train chase to the high rise attack. The finale scales back to mostly just Rake, Zurab and Sandro - our three characters with prevailing father issues.
It is amazing to watch Golshifteh Farahani as Nik get right in the mix. Like, she’s a proper bad ass killer in this sequel as she helps get the family out of the prison and further out of the country. Specifically, she’s a beast during the train and skyscraper fights.
The action in the sequel is very tactical based with displays of para-military might. This is not a world of assassins but of military professionals. Combat rifles and ballistic armor are the norm here. There is some grappling and close quarter action and of course the prison escape is equally rough and tumble when firearms get swatted out of reach. If you are a fan of action that is largely based on precision and execution this is the movie for you.
The first Extraction film served as a showcase of Hargrave’s directing capabilities. Along with the stunt choreography the meticulous planning that had gone into each scene must have been insane. There were not moments in particular where his creativity stood out, not like the car chase scene from the first film. Perhaps not being so obvious, flowing so smoothly from one angle to the next, is where his genius lies.
When pressed to recall one such cool camera trick we think of one shot where the camera lifted off of the ground and up to an elevated walkway where a gunman was shooting at fleeing vehicles. Then it then turned on a pivot and went through a door at the end of it the walkway back into the prison. Again, the sequel demands repeat viewings to full appreciate all of the hard work that everyone did to pull of these terrific set pieces.
There could have been a couple more gnarly moments thrown into the mix - we didn’t ‘OH!’ as much as we thought we should when watching the movie. We have a feeling that repeat viewings will reveal small details missed in the first viewing experience of trying to take it all in. You can only tear another person’s hand open once before it becomes old hat.
Extraction 2 still proves that the first film was not a fluke. Sam Hargrave is the read deal, a massive talent when it comes to action cinema who should be given all the resources they need to create their visions whenever they are called upon. Hemsworth is a proven commodity, of him there was no doubt. And it was even more awesome to see Golshifteh Farahani get their hands dirty in this one. When the story is not hung up on daddy issues it is another showcase of terrific action set pieces and military porn.
WIth word coming that a third film is already in the works the Extraction films remain a franchise that we wish to revisit again and again.
- Sam Hargrave
- Joe Russo
- Chris Hemsworth
- Olga Kurylenko
- Golshifteh Farahani