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Film Review: Extraction

Film Review: Extraction
Rated R
116 Minutes
Released April 24th on Netflix

If you look closely, Extraction pops out of the screen like an etching, with light and colors appearing out of the darkness. The effect of the lighting and realization remind me of those engravings made by coloring blocks of bright Crayola crayons on a piece of paper, then covering it all up with a heavy layer of black crayon. To finish the artwork, you take a sharp tool and etch sections of the black away so that the colors pop through creating an ethereal, intricate design. This is a colorful, fast-moving film that sends you on a journey to a world you probably don’t know.

The mysterious ambiance is probably attributable to Newton Thomas Sigel, one of the top cinematographers working today, with credits that include Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), Drive (2011), The Usual Suspects (1995). Interestingly, Sigel studied painting as a young man. His artistry with the camera adds a much-needed layer to Extraction. First-time director Sam Hargrave made a smart choice to hire the experienced Sigel. This project required a highly skilled cinematographer and camera crew, with breakneck car chases through packed urban streets, vicious fights and gun battles, confined spaces interspersed with long shots showing us the faces of a crowded, dusty city filled with cramped living spaces. One action sequence lasts 11 minutes 30 seconds. Only an extraordinary cameraperson can pull that off. The musical score is also excellent.

Chris Hemsworth plays mercenary “Tyler Rake,” who accepts an assignment to rescue the kidnaped teenage son of a drug kingpin. Hemsworth was not looking to take on another heroic role similar to his “Thor” in the Thor and Avengers movies. When he read the script however, he realized that Tyler was not just a brawny henchman.

Golshifteh Farahani, an Iranian actress with a background in music and theatre, makes strategic appearances as a member of Rake’s team. Memorable even with little dialogue, she is a female “James Bond” type – striking, silent, mysterious and lethal. Her face lights up the screen. She has succeeded in her career in spite of her government’s women’s rights restrictions. Rudhraksh Jaiswal, the young Indian actor who plays “Ovi,” offsets Hemsworth’s brooding with sensitivity as well as strength, allowing him to drop his guard and to open up about his pain.

Another star of the movie is the city of Dakha, the capital of Bangladesh, at the eastern edge of India. The film’s working title was originally “Dakha.” Vivid background shots of the city show the people living and working there and how they live – rich, poor, criminals, street kids, vendors, families. The long shots and panoramas were taken in Dakha itself, with the indoor scenes and close ups done on location in Thailand.

If Sam Hargrave would lose some of the fight scenes and balance his next film with his skilled pensive interludes, his movies will become art as well as thrill-a-minute action entertainment. He has enthusiasm, instincts and a comprehension of the mechanics of film. Relax, Hargrave! We know you’re one of the best fight coordinators in the business. Now you have shown that you can actually tell a great story with relatable, sympathetic characters. Time to expand your horizons.

The end of the movie is deliberately ambiguous. Watch closely and make your own conclusions. Perhaps the story will go on. Whether it does or not, Extraction is worth watching.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com

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