‘Extraction 2’ Review: No Escape

“Extraction 2,” a drab, brawny sequel starring Chris Hemsworth as an Australian mercenary, offers a turgid shadow of the type of crowd-pleasing escapism that action blockbusters used to provide.

The shaky foundation of the director Sam Hargrave’s movie is a trite script by Joe Russo: Recovering from near-fatal wounds he incurred on his previous mission, Tyler Rake (Hemsworth) wakes from a coma. He retires to a quaint cabin in the woods, a gift from his comrades Nik (Golshifteh Farahani) and Yaz (Adam Bessa). It’s a quiet life, surrounded by a dog and chickens, until a mysterious man (Idris Elba) offers him a job: Ketevan (Tinatin Dalakishvili) — Rake’s ex-wife’s sister — and her two children are being held captive in a Georgian prison by their abusive mobster father (Tornike Gogrichiani). Regrouping with Yaz and Nik, Rake devises a plan to save them.

Foregoing any semblance of a story after its initial setup, “Extraction 2” can be separated into three distinct, noxious action sequences. The most elaborate, lasting an interminable 24 minutes, sees Rake infiltrating the facility housing the family, then fleeing with them past claustrophobic cells, through a crowd of prisoners determined to murder them all, and, finally, onto a runaway train.

Edited less-than-seamlessly to look like a single shot, the scene attempts to one-up a similarly elaborate chase from the previous film. But such long sequences require a director and their cinematographer, in this case Greg Baldi, to be cognizant of the story bodies can tell through motion (think Park Chan-wook’s “Oldboy” and John Woo’s “Hard Boiled”). Hargrave lacks such feeling and grace; he merely plants explosions in view of a spinning, swirling, ducking and diving camera in the misplaced hope of building tension.

This movie sacrifices character development — what’s Nik or Yaz’s back story? — in favor of bloated, banal combat scenes. Hargrave tamps down the hints of attraction between Nik and Rake before the two can strike an ember, and leans on narrative shortcuts — including incoherent flashbacks showing Rake’s deceased son — to reach for an unearned pathos. Hemsworth and Farahani do their best to rise above the saccharine material, grasping for human moments amid the vacuous melees. But burdened by its bluster, “Extraction 2” is merely a loud, blithering mess masquerading as fulfilling escapism.

Extraction 2
Rated R for strong, bloody violence throughout. Running time: 2 hours 2 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

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