Click here to return to the main site.

Movie Review



Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Rudhrash Jaisswal, Golshifteh Farahani. Randeep Hooda and David Harbour
Director: Sam Hargrave
AGBO Films Production / TGIM Films / Thematic Entertainment
Certificate: R
Running time: 117 mins
Release Date: 24 April 2020

Alternatively titled Dhaka, this Chris Hemsworth vehicle raised hackles with audiences in Bangladesh because: 1) it portrayed the capitol of that proud nation in a degrading stereotypical way, 2) it depicted the language of the land in a ham handed Babelized gibberish, more Kolkata spoken by those ethnocentric Bengalese, 3) it crusted much of the urban geography with a grimy saffron haze that wouldn’t commend it to a Baedeker tour, 4) that it lacked a storyline worthy of the term. Because of these caveats, Extraction, I’m sure, seemed less problematic to the marketers.

But let’s hold on here and chill out. The movie is financed and produced by multiple sources in the great Asian continental marketplace and is intended for a worldwide market. Cultural atmospheric accuracy has about as much standing as an American cowboy-and- indian movie (that expression is in such foul odour we just don’t say it anymore, do we? Unless we’re jingoistic buttholes; but there are many other examples just as decrepit. Watched Gunga Din (1939) lately?) and as little respect for societal truth as Nazis with British accents, Pharaohs with Australian or Welsh accents, Russians, Chinese, Africans or South Americans with speech patterns born out of some bullshit conceit no one has ever heard outside a dubbing studio. Do the complainers have a point? Assuredly. Is it unique to this picture? Assuredly not. Is the grungy yellow atmosphere justified? Of course not. It’s an aesthetic ethno-slur. Atque capta est designandum.

But does this movie lack a story? No, it has a story and it’s a tale in the classic tradition of Chinese Wuxia. The filmic sagas of the great director King Hu are at home here and so are a multitude of worldwide protagonists since the dawn of time. Before indicting Extraction as without a story remember your Wuxia. We meet this protagonist every time we behold the comrades of King Hu: Kurosawa or Sergio Leone, the Cisco Kid, Ethan Edwards, George Smiley, Philip Marlowe or Enkidu and Gilgamesh. And… Chris Hemsworth’s Tyler Rake here in Extraction.

Wuxia or "martial heroes" ( 武: literally "martial", "military", or "armed" and X 俠: "chivalrous", "vigilante" or "hero/heroine") spring from ancient Chinese tradition and have infiltrated and conquered such diverse forms as opera, films, television series, books, comics and video games all around the world. The hero can be a swordsman or swordswoman even though they may not wield a sword. They are always outnumbered. They are always honourable. They always win, even if they die. Joseph Campbell includes Wuxia characters as archetypal charter members of his universal Hero With A Thousand Faces (

The Wuxia protagonist carries his or her story in their heart. There would be no story if the Wuxia hero forsook their code, sold out and just walked off the mission. In Farewell My Lovely (1975) Robert Mitchum’s Philip Marlowe is asked why he’s still on the case. His client is dead. Mitchum explains to John Ireland that yes his client is dead but he was paid to keep his client alive and thus he’s fallen down on the job. He owes it to his client to catch the killers. Tyler Rake is told the boy (Rudhrash Jaiwassal) he’s rescued from a drug kingpin will most certainly die. It’s easier now just to put a bullet in the kid’s head and take the goodbye money.

There would be no story without the Wuxia hero’s adherence to principle, to keeping his word, not to sell out the mission. This hero’s cardinal virtue of justice is that his yes is yes and his no is no. Hemsworth’s believability is galvanized with flashback glimpses we get about the hole in his soul. This is his motivation and his story. A biography of redemption to help another father keep what he himself has lost. The backstory of Tyler Rake is told throughout the present story of extracting the kidnapped boy. In the end, the boy is safe but more than that he has absorbed his rescuer’s submergence of pain and emergence into life. A gift given him beyond physical life itself.

Even those who piss and moan about lack of story tend to admit Extraction is an action masterpiece. Rarely has close combat been so adroitly choreographed and executed. But the film will be remembered and re-watched for more than that. Hemsworth, director Sam Hargrave and cinematographer, Newton Thomas Sigel are coming away with a kudo sobriquet: “That Epic Extraction Action Scene.” In this one-shot, Tyler Rake protects his charge by running up two stories under attack, going in and out of apartments through onslaught, arriving at the roof and throwing the boy over the gap to the next door rooftop, then leaping across himself, rolling out, killing a few more assholes, going downstairs, in and out of apartments, erupting on the street below and then hijacking cars for vehicular weapons. All with interstitial hazards of constant barrage and hand-to-hand. In one shot. The camera goes everywhere with them. It’s eleven minutes long. This will be a clip on YouTube soon if it isn’t already. It will achieve a million views if it hasn’t already.

When the Blu-ray comes out, the extras, on top of what is already available from Netflix, IMDb and YouTube will be of giganza interest for connoisseurs of action. We need something in this season of lockdown and this impossible feat of filmmaking is just what we deserve for our dutiful social distancing to compensate for cocoon claustrophobia.

If you can get to a streaming source, do it. It’s a popcorn picture.


John Huff

Click here to return to the main site.