Starring Chris Hemsworth, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Priyanshu Painyuli, Golshifteh Farahani, Pankaj Tripathi, David Harbour, Suraj Rikame
Directed by Sam Hargrave
Rating: *** ½ (three and a half stars)
It’s that not-so-old and certainly not forgotten feeling of sitting at the edge of my seat in a movie theatre, that this high-fidelity Netflix actioner brought back right into my home.And it’s the most gratifying feeling to be swept into Chris Hemsworth’s incredible action-adventure as he rescues a 14-year old boy from a vicious crimelord in Dhaka, played with chilling menace by Priyanshu Painyulli.
The film , as we all know, was originally titled Dhaka, for obvious reasons. But then, for not so obvious reasons(dial ‘r’ for redtapism) Mumbai was turned into Dhaka, the underlining premise of this geopolitical liberty being, all thirdworld Asian cities exude the same stench of sweaty bustle and underworld crime.Painyulli’s army of underage criminals could be those slum boys from Danny Boyle’s films.
Foreigners always have a fixed way of looking at India and its metropolis. And Extraction is no exception. There are numerous top-shots of vehicles stranded mid-traffic, of pedestrians in bright clothes negotiating the blaring horns and speeding vans…But wait! This is not the firangi film that exploits and misrepresents us poor natives.
As a matter of fact Extraction gives ample room to the Indian actors specially Randeep Hooda who is in fine form in the second lead and young Rudhraksh Jaiswal who is in almost every frame with Hemsworth who in the truest sense of screen heroism, decides to protect the boy’s life from the rush-hour menace, even as Hemsworth’s female partner(Iranian stunner Golshifteh Farahani, wasted ) and his friend (David Harbour who makes a very unpleasant guest appearance) warn him to get rid of the boy and run for his life from a city that is controlled by criminals(not Mumbai, Dhaka, so relax).
But is Tyler Rake listening? Hemsworth dives into the mind and action of Tyler with a swimmer’s gusto. I bring up the swimming analogy with reason.Water and its meditative purposes play a big hand in the plot .The plot is a simmering cauldron of discontent, designed to exhibit its leading man’s muscle power.Hemsworth does an exceptionally competent turn as an action star,giving his all to the stunt scenes, and then some more.
The kid who accompanies Hemsworth everywhere through the hellish journey that takes them from sewage to foliage, should have made a stronger emotional impact, considering he is the reason why everyone is at risk. Somehow Rudrakhsh Jaiswal is unable to imbue his part with the volume of immediacy and charm it requires. I just saw My Spy two nights ago where a little girl Chloe Coleman co-stars with Dave Bautista. And she is a natural-born scene stealer. Can’t say the same about Jaiswal.
Oops, I am straying. Back to the action…There is one hand-to-hand room-to-room compact-spaced combat in a cramped low-income borderline-chawl apartment block featuring Hemsworth and Hooda which has to be seen to be believed .(A trivial quibble: every apartment plays Bollywood songs, when this is supposed to be Dhaka). The camerawork by Newton Thomas Sigal acts as an accomplice rather than an eyewitness during the stunts. The experience is immersive and riveting, pinning our attention down to the last bone-crunching blow, and the final blood-spilling bullet.
Tearing a page and a limb out of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator one-man-army theory of celluloid heroism, Extraction keeps us engrossed through its predictable plotting. That we know exactly how this kidnapping saga will pan out does not deter our interest. There is a delectable hint of a sequel at the end.And I am agog.