"Extraction 2" stars Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Adam Bessa, Olga Kurylenko, Daniel Bernhardt, and Tinatin Dalakishvili. Released on Netflix on June 16, 2023, the film has Tyler Rake tackling another high-stakes mission after surviving his demise.
The film was directed by Sam Hargrave, a stunt coordinator and stuntman, and it is a sequel to Hargrave's directorial debut, "Extraction". It is also based on the graphic novel Ciudad by Ande Parks, Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Fernando León González, and Eric Skillman. Two years ago, during the pandemic, Netflix released a unique action thriller where Chris Hemsworth trades in his god-like powers for guns. That film is known as "Extraction", a stunt work spectacle that saw Hemsworth reunite with the Russo Brothers and Sam Hargrave following their work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to rival the "John Wick" movies. Despite receiving mixed reviews for its screenplay and "white savior" elements, the film became the most-watched original film in Netflix's history and was praised for its stunts, cinematography, and Hemsworth's performance. Initially, it was supposed to be a one-and-done deal regarding that movie's ending. However, success speaks louder than words, as Netflix decided to revive the character for another round of gunfights, single-shot sequences, and extractions. Does this sequel pack the same punch as its predecessor to justify its existence, or does it show that the streaming service should've left Tyler Rake for dead? Let's find out.
Set after the events of "Extraction", the movie follows Tyler Rake (Hemsworth), a former Australian SAS operator turned black-ops mercenary. After barely surviving his death, Tyler retires from his mercenary career to live a peaceful life in Austria…or so he thought. Tyler is then assigned to his latest mission which has him reunite with his comrades Nik Kahn (Farahani) and her brother, Yaz (Bessa). They're tasked to infiltrate one of the world's deadliest prisons in Georgia to extract the family of a ruthless Georgian gangster Davit Radiani (Tornike Bziava), including Tyler's ex-wife Mia's (Kurylenko) sister Ketevan (Dalakishvili). Their mission resulted in Tyler and the team killing Davit in the heat of battle. However, they eventually learn that their assignment is far from over, as they're now being targeted by the gangster's equally ruthless brother Zurab (Tornike Gogrichiani), seeking revenge for the death of Davit. As a result, Tyler must use his skills again to protect his team and the family from his adversary's path of destruction.
"Extraction 2" is unsurprisingly another action sequel whose goal is to provide a bigger and more explosive experience while retaining the qualities of its predecessor. Of course, those qualities include its authentic and thrilling stunts, an extraction mission in one of the world's most dangerous areas, and the long-take shot, a highlight of the first movie. Most sequels falter in their storytelling and quality while impressing their target audiences, but a few exceptions rarely match, if not surpass, their predecessors, including "John Wick" and "Across the Spider-Verse". This movie seemed to have the opportunity to be another example of the latter, with some reviews saying it's an improvement over the first "Extraction" film. Considering how well-directed and thrilling its predecessor was regarding the Russo Brothers and stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave, it's unsurprising that it would be another hit. What caught me off guard was how it managed to be better than the first film. After viewing it myself, I can see why.
If you've watched the first "Extraction" movie, you'll likely point out its similar narrative elements in the sequel. Following Tyler's survival and retirement, you get plenty of exposition regarding Tyler's mission and an extraction mission consisting of him beating the snot out of anyone who gets in his way. It's delicious popcorn entertainment at its finest for its predecessor's fans. However, regarding its genre tropes, stereotypical villain, and story, there's nothing in "Extraction 2" that will revolutionize the action cinema like what the "John Wick" films did, but that doesn't mean I didn't have a blast watching it.
One reason is the story. "Extraction 2" may seem like another film with all violence and no substance like its predecessor, but that's not the case. While it does feature plenty of brutal violence we've come to expect, the movie displays an attempt at providing an actual narrative within the chaotic mayhem and brutalities. "Extraction 2" emphasizes Tyler's background, in which he left his family to perform his duty during a tragedy, resulting in him being secretly haunted by his decision. His assignment involving his ex-wife's sister's family forces Tyler to face his past to keep them safe. With this narrative, the film portrays Tyler as more than just a by-the-numbers action hero, making him a more engaging character than his portrayal in its predecessor. Chris Hemsworth still proves to be a great choice to play someone like Tyler regarding his superb performance. Granted, he's also compelling through his stunts, but the scenes in between prove that Hemsworth still has the dramatic talent underneath his action stardom.
Along with Hemsworth, the rest of the cast was also solid in their roles. Golshifteh Farahani and Adam Bessa reprise their roles as Nik and Yaz, respectively, and they're both pretty good. The best part about them is that they got more screen time in the sequel compared to the first film. This led to them having a few decent moments that were enough to accompany Hemsworth's glorious rampage, especially Nik during the train sequence. Tinatin Dalakishvili also provided a suitable performance as Ketevan, and Andro Japaridze did all right as Sandro, Ketevan's son, even though his actions may make specific viewers see him as dead weight.
Another reason is Sam Hargrave, who returns to direct the sequel following his debut with the original. While I didn't see "Extraction" as a game-changing experience, I was impressed with how Hargrave handled the stunt work and set pieces despite the middling plot. Like Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, Hargrave understands that stunts are as important as everything else in the film industry. The proof is in their directorial visions regarding the craftsmanship of the action choreography, cinematography, and set pieces. They're sublime sights to behold, whether their executions of the narratives are hits or misses. Unsurprisingly, "Extraction 2" is no exception. Through his direction, Hargrave retains the tension-filled elements from its predecessors to accompany its entertaining action sequences and bigger stunts without leaning toward the ridiculousness factor. Most action sequels tend to go big and bold with their set pieces, and while that may be the case for "Extraction 2", it doesn't reach the point where it's groan-inducing like how the haters feel about the recent "Fast & Furious" sequels.
But, of course, it's not an "Extraction" movie without a long single-take sequence involving Hemsworth kicking ass and escaping the danger zone. The 12-minute single-shot scene involving Tyler escaping through Dhaka was one of the best scenes of the first film and the main reason it's worth watching. For "Extraction 2", Hargrave ups the ante by almost doubling the length of a single-take sequence, resulting in 21 minutes of non-stop action occurring on foot, in the car, and on a train with no cuts. It can be exhausting for specific viewers, and the scene was almost faltered by its shaky camera maneuvers, but everything else about it was an absolute delight. From its cinematography to the thrilling action choreography, the journey to escape the Georgian prison was definitely worth the price of admission. In fact, I might've liked this single-shot scene more than the one in the original.
Overall, "Extraction 2" provides a bigger and bolder mission that slightly improves over its action-fueled predecessor. Its narrative elements were far from unique, and some of its shaky camera maneuvers threatened to downplay the experience. Despite that, the film is another action sequel that respects its predecessor's adrenaline-filled soul and improves it effectively. It's no action masterpiece like "John Wick", but it doesn't need to be. It wanted to be a fun and thrilling piece of popcorn entertainment with enough substance to keep viewers engaged, and I think it accomplished that goal easily. Hemsworth did wonders in injecting humanity into Tyler, and the rest of the cast did enough with what they were given to accompany the main lead. More importantly, it showcases Sam Hargrave as another stuntman-turned-filmmaker to keep an eye on in the future regarding his direction. I wouldn't mind seeing Hargrave expand his directorial career by looking for other original action projects to direct outside the "Extraction" movies sooner or later. With a third "Extraction" installment in the development stages, maybe now would be a good time for him to do so. I would recommend the sequel to people who love its predecessor and action movies.