Mladen and Del review ‘Extraction’

Image courtesy of Netflix.

“Extraction” Starring Chris Hemsworth, Bryon Lerum, Ryder Lerum, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Shivam Vichare, Randeep Hooda, David Harbour, and others. Directed by Sam Hargrave. 116 minutes. Rated R. Netflix.

Mladen’s take

Think of “Extraction” as a John Wick movie with two John Wicks. The film is as good as “John Wick Chapter 3,” which was less good than “John Wick Chapter 2,” which was less good than “John Wick Chapter 1,” a delightful action blockbuster and the Gold Standard for depicting personal violence on the big screen. “Extraction” is worth seeing. It’s closer to a B+ than an A-. And, don’t confuse this “Extraction” with the “Extraction” starring Bruce Willis. Apparently, the Willis film is the opposite of good.

Hemsworth’s character Tyler is a PMC with a guilty conscience. It’s the guilt that yields some banal chatter between him and his teenaged ward and even, get this, tears. The emotional putridness is what pushes this hostage rescue movie into the upper B range. Hell, I expect touchy feely Del to condemn me for my dislike of the effort to introduce warmth to the movie. So, Del, let me be clear. I find it more endearing that Wick whacked a bunch of people for killing his dog and stealing his classic Ford Mustang than Tyler’s decision to save a privileged youth who lives in a society built on unimaginable inequities. The income gap, houselessness, and medical insurancelessness in America ain’t nothing juxtaposed to what upper caste Indians do to lower caste Indians.

The action, violence, and tension in “Extraction” are a whole ’nother story. Give that subset of the film a sparkling A.

On this side, we have Tyler and his Australian army commando good looks and pumped body and, on the other, Saju, portrayed wonderfully by Randeep Hooda. Tyler and Saju, a former Indian army commando with flowing long, dark hair and chiseled jaw, are initially foes and ally later in the movie to execute the good deed. They are the muscular playthings of a feud between an Indian drug boss and a Bangladeshi drug boss. Much of the action takes place in Dhakka.

The fight sequences of the two Wick mimickers against each other and corrupt Bangladeshi army troops are top-notch choreography. There’s hand-to-hand. There are close-in pistol shots to heads and thoraxes. Thoraxi? Thoraxae? There are assault rifle gun-downs at medium range. And, there are exploding heads via snipers at long distances. Damn fine Wick-y-ness. But, though I hate to admit this, there is one prolonged gun battle toward the middle of the movie that ran too long. It was reminiscent of a battle sequence in “Battle LA” that also held children in peril for an interminable period.

Tyler and Saju absorb wicked abuse. It’s the sort of abuse that none of the other shooters in the movie could take. The PMCs recover faster from lacerations, contusions, and blood loss than Donald Moron Trump and William Stay Puft Barr violate the U.S. Constitution. The good part? There’s no effort to explain Tyler’s and Saju’s resilience by pointing out that they are forces of pure will. The two are well-conditioned dudes with a single goal driven, ultimately, by self‑interest. Plausible.

It would be a mistake to ignore the potent character played by David Harbour, as brief as his appearance in “Extraction” is. Harbour portrays another PMC and is Tyler’s long-time buddy. Slimmed down from his days as the sheriff in “Stranger Things” and imposing, Harbour is terrific as the merciless, though he argued otherwise, mercenary. He almost persuaded me to back doing what he wanted to do. Remarkable. Ten million dollars is a lot of money, after all.

“Extraction” also benefits from a very good original score by Henry Jackman. Its tone fits the film. The score’s moodiness, modernity, despair, and a touch of “everything-will-be-all-right” move the movie by helping pace it and adding atmosphere. Maybe this also means that streaming services are now starting to attract capable composers. What would “Jaws” or “Star Wars” be without John Williams? “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” or “The Thing” without Ennio Morricone? Almost nothing, I argue. To me, the sound in a movie, including its score, is more important than the visuals. That means what? Yep, to enjoy “Extraction” correctly you need an AVR pushing as many speakers as possible at decibels that will annoy your neighbors up and down the block.

Finally, yes, the ending of “Extraction” set up a sequel. Who was that stranger standing poolside?

Del’s take

I expect to visit Mladen one day and find him sunning on a rock with the lizards that make up his band of cold-blooded brothers. He might flick his tongue to catch a fly, then bask in exothermic bliss as he digests his snack, untroubled by emotion or feelings, a Mr. Spock among iguanas.

But enough hissing.

I thought “Extraction” was a much better movie than Mladen’s fussy take and I’m surprised he went in that direction. The movie is a bloodbath that by comparison reduces John Wick to a milquetoast Mr. Rogers guest starring on a Richard Simmons workout video. I was black and blue from just watching it. Sure, Hemsworth gets choked up when remembering the death of his little boy. Who wouldn’t? It was 30 seconds of characterization that lifted Hemsworth from the realm of Van Dammit and Rambot into the arms of relatable human beings. I don’t mind seeing my heroes bleed.

The story is simple: The 14-year-old son of a jailed drug lord is kidnapped by a rival cartel chieftain. The boy’s father is understandably pissed and tells the boy’s chagrined guardian to get him back, or else. You’ve probably watched enough episodes of “Narcos” to know what “or else” means in drug lord-speak. Problem is, the government has frozen the drug lord’s assets, so there’s no money to hire the army necessary to free the boy.

The solution? Hire Thor.

And that’s it. Get the kid back. A hammerless Chris Hemsworth swings into bloody action, laying waste to corrupt Bangladeshi soldiers, hired triggermen, a band of rotten brats sprung from the imagination of a methed-out Charles Dickens, and even a former pal who wants to retire but lacks the necessary funds … until now.

The mayhem is fast and very, very furious with lots of shooting, beatings, car chases, stabbings, and even one scene where Hemsworth pummels a guy into a senseless stupor with a stove pot. It makes a delightful clonky sound and I couldn’t tell if it was coming from the pot or the guy’s head.

Hemsworth’s character, Tyler, is motivated to go above and beyond by the memory of his child. When the boy was diagnosed with a terminal illness, Tyler chose another tour of duty in Afghanistan over remaining stateside to preside over the boy’s decline and eventual death. His wife left him over that – deservedly so. And now he must atone for that sin of abandonment by not abandoning another child in need. Yes, his teenaged ward is the son of a drug lord, as Mladen pointed out. But he’s 14, for Christ’s sake. He hasn’t made any of his life’s choices, except which PornHub channel to bookmark. You can’t blame him for his father’s poor choices.

The movie was well-done in many ways, from the setting to the script and even Hemsworth’s performance, which was not overbaked and in some ways contained surprising and, dare I say it, heartwarming subtleties.

So the movie worked for me and I’m rating it a solid A. The only thing that could top it would be a movie that paired Hemsworth with immortal Charlize Theron to kick Godzilla’s ass. Take THAT, Mladen!

You want action without caricature? You want “Extraction.”

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical writer. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and writer.

“No Country for Old Men” Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen. Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly MacDonald. 122 minutes. Rated R.

Mladen’s take

The most interesting part of “No Country for Old Men” comes at the end of the film during the credits.

The film’s makers claim, “This is a carbon neutral production: 100% of carbon emissions offset with Native Energy.”

Dang, what a bold, confident statement. How did producers know the movie is carbon-neutral with such certainty? Did they calculate the oil- or natural gas- or coal-based energy it took to train the animals in the film? Or the noxious, atmosphere-heating gases produced by a burning car? Or using blanks in the silencer-equipped, 12-gauge shotgun wielded by the delightfully remorseless killer portrayed by Javier Bardem?

“No Country for Old Men” is a good movie, regardless of its carbon-neutrality. Why it got the nod for best motion picture of the year is beyond me, though.

It’s a slick film with Texas’ austere plains and mountains as backdrop. Dialogue is good and all of the characters interesting but “No Country for Old Men” is, essentially, little more than a shoot ’em up movie. The plot is tired, despite the penumbra of some hifalutin philosophical talk and events looking at the way fate plays with mankind.

“No Country for Old Men” lacks the dastardly humor of the Coen brothers’ “Fargo” or the flippant violence in “Raising Arizona,” which are better films.

If you go to a video store and “No Country for Old Men” is rented, don’t worry; it’s not a must-see despite its credentials.

Del’s take

Like Mladen asked, “No Country for Old Men” was a good movie but was it worthy of an Oscar?

Maybe in a weak year. Apparently 2007 was just such a year.

In “No Country for Old Men,” Josh Brolin stumbles across a drug deal gone bad. He makes off with the cash. Meanwhile, the druggies hire Javier Bardem to track him down. Tommy Lee Jones is the sheriff who seems to be one step behind the bad guys – on purpose.

The visuals are excellent. Dialogue is excellent. Performances range from good to excellent – I wasn’t impressed by Brolin’s interpretation of the Llewelyn Moss character but Bardem truly deserved an Oscar for his portrayal of killer Anton Chigurh.

I’m not sure what to make of the movie’s overall subtext. I mean, clearly it meant to say: The country has gone to hell in a hand-basket. Bardem’s character is a killer who attributes his amorality to fate, an easy balm for the conscience. Jones’ character is easily understandable as the reluctant sheriff who only wants to survive until retirement. But dirty deeds done dirt cheap have been with us a long, long time, and I’m not sure you can attribute them to Mom and Dad letting Britney dye her hair green.

Bardem is T-boned in an accident that leaves a bone protruding from his arm. He buys the shirt off a teenaged boy’s back and uses it to make a sling. Then he walks away from the accident as sirens wail in the distance. Is this an illustration of the amorality of fate, or a kind of karmic balancing of the equation?

“No Country for Old Men” doesn’t answer that question, and I think that’s where it falls short.

I would say watch it and make your own judgment.

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical editor. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.