If It Weren’t for the White Saviour Angle, ‘Extraction’ Would Have Been Very Entertaining

Netflix

Time is of the essence in Sam Hargrave’s directorial debut Extraction. After building an impressive career off being a stuntman, Hargrave now takes the reins on the action-packed film adaptation of the graphic novel Ciudad based on a story by the Russo Brothers and written by Ande Parks.

The film follows Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) a troubled mercenary who is tasked with an extraction job. The son of an imprisoned drug lord has been kidnapped by a rival gang and Rake must travel to the heart of Dhaka, Bangladesh to retrieve the boy. Despite having a crew of capable mercs, Rake is his own island, battling personal demons that may be leading him into a suicide mission— and that’s exactly what he wants.

If it were not for the unfortunate history of white saviour movies that came before Extraction, this film would have been infinitely more entertaining to watch. However, nothing can really help you get over the fact that you are watching a white man maim and kill numerous faceless and nameless brown men. Especially when the story feels so contrived to have us accept that this man is the one and only man to do the job. It is also hard to accept that this film could not take place in any number of places or have a Bengali or Indian actor in the lead role instead of Hemsworth, especially when the adaptation has already made significant changes from the page. The 2014 graphic novel follows Rake in Paraguay, and his mission is to protect a kidnapped girl. If a change in location and characters could be made, then better choices could have been made to subdue the white saviour narrative at play.

Netflix

Despite these unfortunate decisions, Hargrave proves to be a very effective action director. Just like stuntmen turned directors Chad Stahelski (John Wick) and David Leitch (Atomic Blonde), Hargrave puts to good use his years-long career of being a stuntman and stunt coordinator to craft a high-octane and kinetic action thriller. His camera placements are particularly noticeable as they magnify the artistry and effort in the action coordination, often leaving us too shocked to breath. He has a great sense of space and timing as Rake manoeuvres many hostiles that threaten to harm him and the boy. Hargrave puts his talents to incredible use here and signals a very promising future in the action genre. 

Extraction won’t have a significant hold in the history of the action genre just like it’s Netflix predecessors, J.C. Candor’s Triple Frontier, Michael Bay’s 6 Underground, or Joe Lynch’s Point Blank, it will be viewed by millions, but subsequently forgotten. It does not aid the project that Hemsworth does not have a significant or memorable presence as our lead, in fact, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, who plays our kidnapped boy Ovi, and Indian star Randeep Hooda do most of the heavy lifting in the acting department. The true star of the film is Hargrave’s directing, and for that Extraction is worth the watch.

Extraction is available to stream on Netflix now

by Ferdosa Abdi

Ferdosa (she/her) is a lifetime student of cinema. Three of her current favourite films are: Addams Family Values, Cinderella (2015), and Emma. (2020)On Twitter you can see her support women-led cinema, her ongoing love/hate relationship with Disney, her totally healthy obsession with Eva Green, and her great admiration for Guillermo del Toro.

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