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Determined to keep young Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal) alive, Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) must figure out how to evade an entire city’s worth of bent cops and soldiers under the command of a ruthless drug lord. Courtesy photo

Arts

‘Extraction’: Like getting a tooth pulled

‘Extraction’

Two stars;

Starring:365体育投注 Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Golshifteh Farahani, Priyanshu Painyuli, David Harbour and Suraj Rikame

Rating:365体育投注 R, for profanity, brief drug use and relentless strong, bloody violence

Nonstop intense action and nasty violence quickly grow tedious

By Derrick Bang
Enterprise film critic

It’s always easy to identify a stunt coordinator/second unit director granted the opportunity to ascend to the big-dog throne.

The resulting film is little but relentless — and redundant — action, with fleeting pauses for microscopic dollops of character development and something vaguely approaching actual acting. The scripts can be written on a postage stamp.

Such is the case with the Netflix original, “Extraction,” which — if nothing else — certainly gave star Chris Hemsworth a lot of exercise … and very little else. Absolutely none of his twinkly charm is on display here; he plays his role as if it were a punishment.

365体育投注Director Sam Hargrave and editors Ruthie Aslan and Peter B. Ellis keep things moving at a furious clip; even so, there’s only so many ways to shoot and stab people.

One gets the impression our protagonist is on a crusade to single-handedly decimate the population of Bangladesh. As this endlessly violent saga proceeds, he appears to be succeeding.

During a brief prologue, we meet Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the young son of jailed arch-criminal Mahajan (Pankaj Tripathi); the boy lives a privileged but lonely existence, his every move monitored by gun-toting protectors. Due to Ovi’s own carelessness, he’s kidnapped by thugs belonging to rival drug lord Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli), and squirreled away in a heavily guarded apartment complex in Dhaka.

Mahajan, understandably ticked off, orders his lieutenant Saju (Randeep Hooda) to rescue the boy … which is, of course, utterly impossible. Asif’s legion of well-armed goons aside, the drug lord also has the local police and military in his pocket.

365体育投注So, who ya gonna call?

That would be Tyler Rake (Hemsworth), a black-market mercenary whose utter fearlessness results mostly from a death wish. This is, you see, a Man Haunted By Something. Hargrave and scripter Joe Russo tease us with occasional memory flashes, as this saga proceeds; Hemsworth’s taciturn features reveal very little.

Actually, they reveal absolutely nothing, and the same can be said of most characters in this video game disguised as a movie. Scant dialog is traded back and forth; emotional depth is conveyed (actually, it usually isn’t) by lingering takes on grim, silent expressions. We’re just supposed to understand365体育投注, donchaknow.

Saju gets in touch with arms dealer Nik (Golshifteh Farahani), who in turn offers the assignment to Tyler; he naturally accepts. Nik keeps favoring Tyler with long, thoughtful stares; the two of them apparently Have History. (Of what sort, we never learn.)

Nik turns out to be quite the badass herself, and Farahani is more adept than most at granting this woman a personality. It’s a shame we don’t get to spend more time with her.

Finding and retrieving Ovi turns out to be the easy part; hanging onto him, and getting him to safety, proves far more difficult. Geography comes into play; Dhaka is essentially an island surrounded by four rivers. Only four bridges lead out of the city, all of which are quickly blockaded by Amir and his pet soldiers.

To give credit where due, Hargrave’s first act is crackerjack suspenseful, as Tyler and an initially wary Ovi first escape the apartment complex, laden with all manner of bad guys; and then hijack a car and roar pell-mell through Dhaka’s narrow city streets, bustling with civilians, while trying to evade multiple pursuing vehicles.

Much of the latter sequence plays like a single lengthy tracking shot that slides around, behind and even inside Tyler and Ovi’s rapidly deteriorating car; the visceral impact is quite cool. There’s a definite sense that Hargrave and his stunt coordinators — Daniel Stevens and Thayr Harris — are attempting to emulate John Woo’s classic crime thrillers, and Iko Uwais’ phenomenal martial arts masterpieces (“The Raid,” etc.).

Unfortunately, Hargrave and Russo lack that level of creativity and plot complexity. After Tyler and Ovi get their initial bit of breathing space, the rest of the film becomes a tedious exercise in more of the same: running, shooting, stabbing, slashing, punching and head-butting. Given that this film runs a full two hours, that gets old very quickly.

Hargrave also makes a rookie mistake. His film opens with a dire flash-forward that is a) completely unnecessary; and b) gives too much away, thus robbing the second and third acts of their decreasing levels of suspense.

Matters do pause long enough for Hemsworth and Jaiswal to share a quiet (and welcome!) scene with a bit of emotional gravitas. The latter makes Ovi a plucky kid, whose initial wariness slowly yields to genuine trust in this dour stranger. He also delivers the story’s crucial moral, and — to Jaiswal’s credit — he gives it the proper dramatic heft:

“You drown not by falling into the river, but by staying submerged in it.”

365体育投注(OK, fine; it’s more meaningful in context.)

365体育投注Painyuli makes an excellent villain, resplendent in costume designer Bojana Nikitovic’s luxuriously tailored suits, which are a deliberate contrast to the squalid trappings of most Dhaka residents. The story wastes no time in making us hate Amir, when — very early on — he orders an underling to toss a street urchin to his death, from a tall roof.

365体育投注Hooda’s Saju gets a bit of genuine character depth; his motives seem foggy, and we’re never entirely sure whose side he’s on. Suraj Rikame makes a strong impression as Farhad, a young tough determined to curry favor with Amir.

365体育投注David Harbour, immediately recognized from “Stranger Things,” adds a vibrant note as Gaspar, a fellow mercenary who pops up at an opportune moment. Harbour is the only actor who rises above his thin material; the jovial Gaspar is a breath of fresh air, in these otherwise stern proceedings.

365体育投注Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel certainly was kept busy; filming took place in Australian, Thailand and Bangladesh, with Dhaka re-created in India’s Bengali community of Kolkata. If nothing else, we marvel that a movie even could be made in such a colorfully boisterous and unbelievably crowded environment.

Sigel also favors overhead aerial shots — no doubt at Hargrave’s insistence — and this, too, gets overworked.

365体育投注“Extraction” is based on the 2014 graphic novel “Ciudad,” written by Russo, Anthony Russo and Ande Parks, and illustrated by Fernando León González and Eric Skillman; the action has been shifted from South America to India and Bangladesh. The story’s drama undoubtedly worked better in this format, where a reader is able (and expected) to fill in emotional resonance between panels.

Under Hargrave’s direction, however, this big-screen adaptation quickly becomes a slog.

— Read more of Derrick Bang’s film criticism at http://derrickbang.blogspot.com. Comment on this review at redaslaoui.com.

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