Extraction begins with Hemsworth on a bridge, bruised, bloody, and potentially dying. The corpses of what appears to be an entire army surround him. It’s unclear where the movie will go after killing the star off in the first few minutes. Soon we move to a flashback, with setup. The bridge, it is explained, is Hemsworth’s route out of Dhakar, where he’s traveled to rescue Ovi, the teenage son of a drug lord, who has been kidnapped by another drug lord bent on revenge and humiliation. Ovi’s father, however, is in prison and having fallen on hard times and is unable to pay a team of professional mercenaries to rescue his son.

He is, however, powerful enough to frighten his surrogates with enough death and destruction that his lead henchman, terrified, invents a scheme to hire Hemsworth’s crew and screw them out of their final payment—which seems like it should work out well! Thus Hemsworth’s journey to the bridge is, in fact, a moral undertaking: will he rescue the child and forgo his paycheck? Or assure his own safety and ditch him for safety outside of city limits. The bridge is a metaphor... for something.

Here are some things that happen in Extraction: A teenager is shot in the forehead. A small child is thrown to his death off a roof. Another teenager is forced to cut off his own fingers. (“I recommend the left [hand], so you can still hold a gun,” his captor says.) Rocket launchers are launched into cars. Bullets are shot into the necks of people holding rocket launchers. After being run over by a truck, a rescuer snaps his broken nose back into place, releasing a gush of blood into his mouth. Hemsworth shoots and stabs and sends bullets into the fleshy space between protective helmets and bullet-proof vests—he hits this spot so frequently that by the time the aforementioned 11-and-a-half-minute single-shot sequence happens, I was no longer surprised by his precision.


At one point, one of Hemsworth’s more treacherous colleagues suggests that he murder the child and escape intact. “The best thing you could do right now is... put a bullet in his brain,” he implores. The setup implies that the suggestion is bad, but it’s not entirely illogical. Two armies have been dispatched—one to protect Ovi, one to return him to his kidnapper—and both are filled with individuals acting out of fear for punishment or violence either drug lord might enact if they fail at their task. By the hundredth or thousandth murder, watching Hemsworth nonchalantly hit an artery at close range for a satisfying little explosion, I began to wonder if the child’s life was really worth the stakes. In Extraction, violence exists much as it does in life, triggered from afar by powerful people, enacted by those too fearful to not comply. It’s hard to find any escapism in something so close to home.