Even if you don’t know the name Sam Hargrave, I promise you that you’ve seen him. Sam Hargrave is a stunt man that’s had the unbelievable luck for doubling everyone from Chris Evans in the Marvel films, Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine, Stephen Lang in Conan the Barbarian, and the cast of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Hargrave would quickly excel in the industry, becoming a stunt coordinator and fight choreographer. And in 2016, made the jump to directing big-budget film productions 2nd unit. you may have heard of the titles he directed 2nd unit on, Avengers: Infinity War + Endgame, Deadpool 2, Atomic Bonde (yes, that one shot fight was his), The Accountant and Suicide Squad.
So it’s no surprise that someone with Sam Hargrave’s experience behind the camera would eventually find the director’s chair. And the film he would eventually make would be incredible.
Released on Netflix on April 24th, Extraction is a love letter to Tony Scott’s action movie legacy in every way. With a script written by Joe Russo and produced by Joe and his brother, Anthony, Extraction tells the story of Tyler Rake. A mercenary who’s hired to extract the kidnapped son of a drug lord in India.
Straight from the start of the film, Hargrave’s understanding of action and visual language creates something unique in the action world, a character-driven action movie that uses the action that faces Rake to force Rake to face who he is. Shot in Ahmedabad India, Hargrave crafts a story favoring extraordinarily long and tightly framed handheld shots to create kinetic energy in the scene but also a claustrophobic feeling to the film.
And I go back to the character in action. With this script, Hargrave and his lead, Chris Hemsworth, tell a story through the action. The golden rule of action and action choreography is storytelling doesn’t stop when the dialogue does. And this is the rule that Rake lives by. He does have a lot to stay because he just doesn’t care anymore. He’ll jump off a 30 story cliff without a second thought. He walks into a room filled with armed men by himself, unarmed, and calmly look them in the eye because he doesn’t care. Dying isn’t something that Tyler Rake is afraid of. In fact, he’s afraid of something else entirely. And it’s this kid that he’s extracting, Ovi, that forces him to confront what he’s afraid of.
Hargrave’s eye for casting proves to be just as good as his eye for tempo. It speaks to Hemsworth’s appetite for acting to choose a role like Tyler Rake. Rake is physically tough but an emotional coward. He gets his ass handed to him a lot. He loses fights. And Hemsworth revels in this role. Creating a performance that’s comparable to Jeremy Renner in Hurt Locker to the point that here’s a believable emptiness in Hemsworth’s eyes. You can genuinely believe when this movie starts that Rake doesn’t have anything left to give the world. Juxtaposed against the performance of relative newcomer, Rudhraksh Jaiswal’s performance as Ovi Mahajan, there’s hope. Jaiswal has honesty and thoughtfulness that draws you in.
Every good hero is only as god as their villain and strikes gold with Priyanshu Painyuli. Playing the drug lord, Amir Asif, a lean and small guy, Asif wouldn’t stand a second in a fight against a guy like Rake. But where Asif excels is watching you. He can talk, get in your head, and convince you to do just about anything. Painyuli plays this up as well as Hemsworth plays Rake. He oozes confidence And you get the idea he’s not searching for some kernel of weakness that he can use against you.
Been Boys’ Randeep Hooda plays Saju, ex-special forces after Hemsworth to get Ovi back. Thoughtful, smart, and unexpected. Hooda creates a surprisingly intelligent character with not a lot of time to do that in.
The true stand out of this film for me was Golshifteh Farahani’s Nik Khan. The business end of Rake’s operation, throwing out the roles she’s been known for in The Upside, and Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, Golshifteh acts against alpha males like Hemsworth and not only does she own the power in the room, she can pull a trigger every bit as good as he can.
And quick shout out to Hargrave’s cameo as Rake’s sniper.
Great characters and great action means incredible sequences including a twelve-minute car chase designed to look like one continuous shot that in itself deserves its own movie on how they shot it. Hargrave operating the camera while strapped to the hood of the car chasing Hemsworth, passing the camera to the operator in the back of Hemsworth’s car when they crash into each other. Car chases, knife fights, foot chases, fist fights, and fire fights, Extraction is the first great action movie of the decade and is more than deserving of four out of five stars and to hang in the annals of the action movie director greats. I can’t wait to see what Sam Hargrave does with his next film. He’s an extraordinary talent in front of and behind the camera.
If I had anything negative to say about this film it’s that premiering on Netflix, I’m actually genuinely upset that I won’t get the chance to see these insane action sequences on a theatre screen. This is exactly the kind of movie that the theatre experience with friends was meant for.