Joe Russo adapted Extraction from a graphic novel titled Ciudad that he had written with Ande Parks about a decade ago. He fondly recalls mining his childhood love of the action-thriller genre as he was working on the script.
“We’d stay up late with my father on weekends and watch all those quintessential ‘70s action thrillers, so I have a strong emotional connection to the genre, but with this film, I wanted to deconstruct it: deconstruct the notions of what it means to be a hero and ask hard questions about the traditional stereotypes that play out in action movies. So by the end of the film you’re left with a lot of ideas that have been turned on their heads.”
While the new film that dropped on Netflix last week, Extraction, is a big action feature, the role of Tyler Rake is more complicated than your average hero. Physically strong, but emotionally guarded, Rake is a broken man with nothing left to lose when he rediscovers his sense of humanity through his relationship with the young boy he’s hired to rescue.
“Joe sent me the script when we were shooting the last Avengers and I loved it,” Chris Hemsworth recalls. “His pitch was that it was a throwback to a Steve McQueen action film — gritty but with some real heart and memorable characters. Then he told me that Sam Hargrave would direct. I was pretty quickly on board.”
For many different reasons, Chris Hemsworth suited the role perfectly. “He has the physical stature to put up with the punishment his character goes through” says Hargrave. “But there’s also another side to Chris — an emotional grit that we’ve only seen flashes of but was always there.”
“Part of what makes Chris so compelling to watch is that he has one of the most remarkable instruments of any actor — his physicality can feel superhuman at times, but he couples this with a deep, complex, and surprising inner life in his performances,” says Anthony Russo. “With Tyler Rake, he’s created a character where the mystery inside the man is every bit as compelling as his physical intensity.”
To afford Hemsworth, a native Australian, even greater freedom with the role, Hargrave made Tyler Rake an Australian, as well. “I was excited about letting Chris dig deep emotionally and really peel back the layers of this character. So, I wanted to free him up, let him identify with the character even more deeply and give him the freedom to express himself in what I think is a beautiful performance,” says Hargrave.
“Rake is a difficult character and any other actor might have become lost in his self-hating misery, but Chris is able to elevate him with a sense of wit and irony,” says Joe Russo. “Rake distances himself from other people, but thanks to this young boy — we start to see the cracks, the vulnerability and that’s what makes it so interesting. It’s a brave performance by Chris. I don’t think we’ve seen this kind of performance from him before.”
Filmed in India and Thailand with an international cast and crew, production included 56 stunt players on the bridge including 40 local Thai players and others from the US, Canada, Australia.
Chris Hemsworth was in his element. “The action was non-stop but I like it that way. Sometimes on a film when you have long waiting times, you lose momentum, especially with something so physical. But using an actual bridge meant we could immerse ourselves in the action and the emotion. I’ve worked a lot with blue and green screen and your imagination has to do a lot of work to create the world. The bridge (sequence) did a lot of that work for us. We never lost sight of the story beneath the action,” Hemsworth continues. “At its heart this film is about these two characters — this hardened mercenary and an innocent kid. Both of them have this sense of loneliness: Ovi is searching for the love of a parent, a mentor or guide, and Rake has intentionally isolated himself because of the guilt he is carrying. They meet each other in the strangest
of circumstances and they begin to heal one another. Rake goes into the mission for money but actually buried under that he is looking for forgiveness. For me, this is a redemption story — and the third act on the bridge brings all of this to fruition.”
“It was always our hope to create a movie that not only entertains through action, but gives audiences an emotional reaction to the journey our characters go on,” says Hargrave. “I challenged myself to create something that was focused on dramatic storytelling, but wrapped up in a muscular action film because that’s what I gravitate toward. I like artistic, intimate, character-driven films that show you portraits of life, but I also really like big, blockbuster action, and hopefully this gives you the best of both worlds.”
Extraction is now streaming on Netflix, add it to your MyList below:
Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) is a fearless black market mercenary with nothing left to lose when his skills are solicited to rescue the kidnapped son of an imprisoned international crime lord. But in the murky underworld of weapons dealers and drug traffickers, an already deadly mission approaches the impossible, forever altering the lives of Rake and the boy. An action-packed, edge-of-your-seat thriller directed by Sam Hargrave, EXTRACTION is an AGBO Films and TGIM Films, Inc. production, produced by Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Mike Larocca, Chris Hemsworth, Eric Gitter, and Peter Schwerin.
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