Extraction Movie Review: Scriptless set-piece stunner!
Extraction is shot in Bombay set in a lane that could easily pass off for back-alley of what used to be Elbo (and is now Glass) Room in Bandra.
Director: Sam Hargrave
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Randeep Hooda
Takes a bit of an insider to know exactly how Bombay beat-cops randomly harass young adults milling around, minding their own business, outside clubs/bars past midnight — as if that's the biggest crime in town.
That scene, so representative of the city's dying night life, occurs rather early on in Extraction. By the look of it, it is shot in Bombay — set in a lane that could easily pass off for back-alley of what used to be Elbo (and is now Glass) Room in Bandra.
Only that this is a proper, hardcore Hollywood production, directed by a first-timer (Sam Hargrave) who, until this shoot, had probably never been to India. The hero, Australian-born Chris Hemsworth, tops the world's highest paid actors' lists, and is widely adjudged 'world's sexiest man alive' in the western press. The script — or rather the lack of it (sadly) — is written by Joe of the Russo Brothers — their last film as directors being Avengers: Endgame (naam toh suna hoga!).
Up until that point in the film I speak of (above), the dialogues in Extraction are mainly in Hindi. This carries on for long passages in the picture thereafter; including a whole lot of Bengali, as the action in the film altogether, ostensibly, shifts to Dhaka.
What's there not to be pleasantly gob-smacked by all this shudh 'desiness' going on in a thoroughbred global stunt-actioner? But I speak too soon. For, the moment those fellows in police uniform approach a few kids outside a Bombay bar, one of the boys in the group is abducted, others shot at. And the thriller cuts to such a frantic chase, that all there's left to it are a series of set-pieces, involving grenades, gun-fires and mortal combat.
No issues with that, of course. Just that this is so much of a (critic-proof) genre film, it seems the filmmakers couldn't care two hoots about every moment from thereon — flowing as generically as the audiences would ever imagine them to.
But for the setting, obviously. Which, truth be told, is essentially a white man's gaze at what a rat-hole the size of hell would look like, with the military and ragtag militias being one and the same thing. Guns going off on streets all day, people flocking and flopping like packs of sardines or lemmings off cliffs. This is supposed to be Bangladesh on any given day. Though, am told this was shot in Ahmedabad.
Watch the trailer of Extraction trailer here
Recalling how some Indians outraged over poverty-porn in Slumdog Millionaire, as if Danny Boyle had built a set to defame Bombay (he hadn't; it was what it was) — desis should take mass offence at the portrayal of Dhaka. Relax, that's a joke; suggesting no such thing! This is a frickin' movie. Watch it for that — just as others will.
What you'll appreciate then is the sort of fire-power and raw energy that laces this dusty stunner throughout. For its setting, this is probably a Rohit Shetty actioner to the power 10, in terms of gritty realism. And maybe there's a template in it somewhere for something desi in the Fast and Furious space.
Basically, Sam Hargrave has come into direction after a heavy body of work as stunt coordinator in Hollywood. A story-line may not artistically be his strongest point. But hell yeah, he knows a thing or two about action.
As does Hemsworth — a one-man army, running around here with a loaded arms factory, ensuring bang for the buck. Speaking of which, ideally, this Netflix film would've been best enjoyed in a theatre. This must also be said for the relatively under-rated, but much superior Netflix thriller, Triple Frontier (2019). That was about a huge robbery, involving a Colombian drug-lord, gone bizarre. This one involves Hemsworth's character being hired to 'extract' or rescue the abducted son of 'Bombay's Escobar', who's been kidnapped by 'Dhaka's Escobar' (accha!). Besides the entire city of Dhaka, along with all exit routes closed, Hemsworth has to also take on the Indian don's henchman — for reasons that should only be unlocked by viewers.
Randeep Hooda plays this feisty antagonist — full-on kicking ass, firing on all cylinders, opposite Hemsworth, no less — in Steven Seagal hairdo from the '80s. That's where this film deliberately belongs, too. Pankaj Tripathi is the Indian don, Ovi Mahajan Sr. His missing son is named, Ovi Mahajan Jr (kuch bhi!). Young Priyanshu Painyuli — the super-fine 'find' from the film Bhavesh Joshi Superhero — is the Bangladeshi don.
But for so much delightful desiness in this grand deadliness, would one have even watched this flick with such keen eyes? Let alone responded to it in so many words? Good question.
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