Bigger, badder, better ... director Sam Hargrave, screenwriter Joe Russo and star Chris Hemsworth up the ante with this sequel.
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You gotta love it when a sequel is bigger, badder and better than its predecessor. I’m looking at you “Aliens,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Bad Boys II.” Netflix’s “Extraction 2” (now streaming on the service) is another sterling example of this trend.
After getting shot in the throat and taking a backwards header off a Bangladesh bridge into the drink below at the conclusion of the first installment you’d be well within your rights to assume Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) had died … and for a time he did.
Rake gets raked from the river, resuscitated and is placed in a coma for months as opposed to years like Steven Seagal’s Mason Storm from “Hard to Kill” … replete with long hair and beard. He awakens and promptly tells his handler Nik (Golshifteh Farahani) to, “Fuck off.”
Despite Rake’s rudeness Nik and her brother Yaz (Adam Bessa) set him up with a cabin the woods in which to recuperate. Just as Rake starts getting antsy for some action a cameoing celebrity shows up offering him a job to which he has a somewhat personal connection.
Georgian gangster brothers Zurab (Tornike Gogrichiani) and Davit Radiani (Tornike Bziava) head a drug and gun-running cult referred to as the Nagazi. Davit got thrown in the clink after throwing a DEA agent off a building. He insists that his wife Ketevan (Tinatin Dalakishvili) and children Sandro (Andro Japaridze) and Nina (twins Mariami and Marta Kovziashvili) do time with him so they can’t escape his clutches. It’s up to Rake to break into the prison, bust Ketevan, Sandro and Nina out and get them to safety. Davit gets killed in the process and Zurab and his cultists (among them Daniel Bernhardt from the memorable prolonged fight sequence episode of “Barry”) are out for blood.
Hemsworth’s former stunt double Sam Hargrave returns to the director’s chair for “Extraction 2” and he’s shown huge growth as a filmmaker. There’s a digitally-aided 21-minute oner that’s an absolute wonder. The action escalates to a helicopter-train chase and an Austrian high-rise skirmish in which Rake hilariously wrecks wretches with workout equipment.
Hemsworth is convincing in both action and character. There are surprisingly deep emotional notes he’s required to play and he knocks ‘em outta the park. Farahani and Bessa imbue Nik and Yaz with such a deep likability that I was constantly concerned for their characters’ safety. Japaridze’s Sandro is one of the dumbest and least likable movie children in recent memory, but the actor does a decent enough job embodying why the character makes the stupid decisions he does. Speaking of being unlikable, Gogrichiani’s Zurab is a real bastard … but even he is gifted with moments for which the audience can empathize or sympathize.
Russo brother Joe returns to script. The dialogue ain’t always great, but the action beats most assuredly are. “Extraction 2” is a combination of 1980s action flicks (complete with gear-up montages) and our best modern offerings (“The Raid 2” feels like a strong inspiration on the prison escape sequence). This is 2023’s second best action movie after “John Wick: Chapter 4” and I’m waiting with bated breath for “Extraction 3.”