Whilst the finale of Extraction (2020) had Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) take a bullet to the throat before falling hundreds of feet into the river below, his ultimate fate was left ambiguous during the final moments of the film. Just before the closing credits ran a blurred figure resembling Hemsworth was shown, with it being left open whether he survived or not.
With the success Extraction had on Netflix, it wasn’t so much of a surprise that a sequel was in development. Even with the apparent death of its lead character, the filmmakers would no doubt find a way around it. I actually thought that writer Joe Russo may have gone the prequel route, setting the film years before our first introduction to Rake. Instead Extraction 2 picks up moments after the events of the first film, with Rake miraculously surviving his fall and washing ashore.
Found by his team, Rake is quickly rushed to a hospital in Dubai where doctors work hard to save his life. Although he manages to pull through, the damage to his body has made him somewhat of a shadow of the man he once was. Forced to retire from the mercenary game, Rake retreats to live in a log cabin somewhere in Austria.
Struggling to live the quiet life, Rake is given a chance to return to his old way of life by the appearance of a mysterious man (Idris Elba) who wants to hire Rake for a deadly mission. At first Rake isn’t interested until he is informed that it’s his ex-wife Mia (Olga Kurylenko) who is looking to hire him, with her wanting Rake to break her sister Ketevan (Tinatin Dalakishvili) and her two children out of a Georgian prison. The three of them are being held there by Ketevan’s husband Davit Radiani (Tornike Bziava), a renowned Georgian gangster.
As expected, the extraction doesn’t exactly go to plan, with Davit’s brother Zurab (Tornike Gogrichiani) pulling out all stops to make sure Ketevan and her family pay for what he perceives as betrayal, with only Rake and his team being able to stop him.
It would appear that director Sam Hargrave’s mission this time around was to outdo everything that came before. With that in mind Extraction 2 is almost an unmitigated success with the film having some of the best action you will see this year, or any year for that matter. With the Russo Brothers once again on board as producers, you should realize that Extraction 2 is going to be large scale filmmaking very much in line with their own directorial output. Sure it may be getting released via streaming, but make no mistake, this is a cinema level blockbuster through and through.
Of this year’s action movies, I would say that only John Wick Chapter 4 (2023) has come close to this level of quality in action. Sure, it may overdo the one take action scene, which is now becoming overused, but Extraction 2 carries it off with such skill that you will quickly forgive this. The prison escape set piece is one of the film’s main selling points and puts any of this year’s blockbusters action scenes to shame. The level of beautifully choreographed carnage has to be seen to be believed.
Now, we know that there’s no way such elaborate action scenes are really carried out in one take, with smart editing and CGI covering the joins, but Hargrave along with his stunt team are really at the top of their game here. With his work on the first film and now this Hargrave has proven to be one of the best action movie directors currently working in Hollywood. Looking at Hargrave and his contemporaries like David Leitch, Chad Stahelski and more recently J.J. Perry, it is clear that ex stunt people make for the best action movie directors, with their movies far surpassing anything else that is currently on release.
As well as the prison escape, Hargarve treats his audience to several other large scale set pieces throughout the film. Each action scene is at an extended length, but Hargrave makes sure not to make them outstay their welcome. Surprisingly, for the finale Hargrave decides to go smaller scale where Rake faces off against main villain Zurab. This works in the film’s favor, with the intimacy of the one on one fight between the two adding to the overall intensity. Neither combatant comes out of the fight unscathed, with them stabbing, gouging and breaking each other’s bones in order to get the upper hand.
Extraction 2 plays very much like an overlooked 80’s actioner. I mean this as a compliment, with it being filled to the brim with macho heroes, despicable villains and an abundance of over the top action scenes. Added to the mix is the expected training montage, where the broken Rake works hard to get himself back into fighting shape. With the snowy landscape the training took place in, I was almost mistaken that I was watching Rocky 4 (1985).
There are some minor drawbacks, but none of these are that serious to derail the film. The plot isn’t exactly original, but hey it gets the job done and projects our heroes from one action scene to the next. Like the first film, there is a filter over the film. Whereas the first film had a yellow/orange look to match the heat of Bangladesh, this instead has a slightly ugly blue/grey tinge to suit the colder Georgia setting.
The only other real drawback comes with the inclusion of teenage character Sandro. No offense to actor Andro Japaridze who acts well enough, but Sandro is one of those stereotypical arsehole kids that you just wish someone would slap. He makes so many dumb decisions in the film that he could be considered more dangerous than the terrorists chasing him and his family. Luckily the rest of the cast make up for this, and with Chris Hemsworth in the lead you won’t really care much about young Japaridze.
As great as Chris Hemsworth is at portraying Thor, I feel he is better suited at playing a character like Tyler Rake where he not only gets to show off his physical skills but gets to show his emotional side as well. The death of his son is one wound that won’t heal, and this allows Hemsworth to give Rake some more depth than is expected in an action film like this.
It’s never going to win Hemsworth any awards but the actor puts himself 100% into the role, especially during the lengthy action scenes where he is put through a great deal of punishment. Rake can come across as almost indestructible but Hemsworth along with his director still make him at least feel human. This is clearly a role close to Hemsworth’s heart, with him already announcing that there’s already an Extraction 3 in development.
Like the first film, Hemsworth is capably backed up by Golshifteh Farahani as Nik Kahn, who Rake talks into helping him with his extraction plan. Farahani gets a lot more to do this time round, getting to take part in her own fair share of the action. Taking on opponents twice her size, Farahani certainly dishes out a good percentage of punishment, showing that she is a force to be reckoned with. Like Hemsworth’s Rake, she doesn’t exactly leave her battles unscathed, with her getting increasingly bruised and battered throughout the duration of the movie.
Farahani and Hemsworth make for a pretty deadly duo, but it’s not just them in on the action. Also returning from the first film is Adam Bessa, who plays Nik’s brother Yaz. He brings some lightness to the team, with him taking things less seriously than his fellow mercenaries. That isn’t to say he doesn’t end up kicking ass when the time comes.
Tinatin Dalakishvili doesn’t get as much of a chance to impress as her co-stars, with her and her children really just there to keep the plot moving. However, some of Dalakishvili’s dialogue does give a brief insight into Rake’s character.
On the villain side, Tornike Gogrichiani’s Zurab certainly makes for a despicable bad guy. This marks Gogrichiani’s first Hollywood feature, with his truly evil Zurab stopping at nothing to get his revenge. Zurab is willing to kill anyone who gets in his way, even if they are his own family. I appreciated the small flashes showing his horrific upbringing which at least explained in some way how he had become such a damaged character. Although these scenes don’t go into a great deal of depth, it’s still more explanation than I was expecting.
I was pleasantly pleased when I recognized martial arts movie legend Daniel Bernhardt as one of Zurab’s loyal followers. He doesn’t get as much of an opportunity to show off his fighting skills as I would have liked. Even so, Bernhardt always manages to make an impression and stand out from the crowd.
One other noteworthy small role is that of Idris Elba’s mysterious stranger. Listed in the credits as Alcott, he is never named on screen. I would have preferred it if the trailers didn’t spoil his appearance as it would have made for a nice surprise. His role is merely an extended cameo, but he’s his usual charismatic self and raises the possibility of him featuring more in any further Extraction entries down the line.
Extraction 2 may not be to all tastes, as judged by some other online critics but I can’t see how any action movie lover won’t be swept up by the multitude of quality set pieces on show, with this being one sequel that manages to be equal to and even surpassing the original in some regards. Not to be missed.
Plot: 3/5 Acting: 4/5 Action: 5/5 Overall: 4/5