Critic Robert Brian Taylor calls these movies part of “The Sad Action Hero canon.” Chris Hemsworth is its most notable new member. He plays Tyler Rake—a young boy’s idea for an action hero name, but Hemsworth makes him seem almost like a real person. He’s a tremendous physical actor, possibly as good as Schwarzenegger and Stallone in their primes, but with more range. He’s played a scheming male bimbo, a legendary computer hacker, a depressed mercenary, a 19th-century whaler, a cult leader, and the mighty Thor, all convincingly. He’s got a bit of the young Sean Connery’s self-aware swagger as well. But there’s also a buried sadness to him, and that’s what the “Extraction” films dig out.
Tyler used to be a special forces soldier with the Australian Army. He chose to go to Afghanistan for yet another tour of duty while his son was battling an incurable disease and was not present when the boy died. Then his marriage fell apart and he became a mercenary. Guilt over husbandly and parental failure is as much of a driving force in the “Extraction” franchise as amnesia in the “Bourne” films and mourning in the “John Wick” series. Tyler’s adventures are redemption stories, set in action movie purgatories filled with shadow versions of the hero: defective fathers who mistreat, neglect, or warp their children and see them as extensions of their ego or brand. Tyler’s main enemies are dark parents who could be stand-ins for Tyler’s own masochistic feelings about how badly he failed his family.
The first “Extraction” showed Tyler rescuing the kidnapped son of an Indian drug lord who was being held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The kid was a pawn in a pissing match between rich bullies with private armies. In accepting the mission Tyler sort of offered himself up a a karmic punching bag, absorbing punishment for his past mistakes in an urban hellhole-purgatory (in the original graphic novel, the setting was Paraguay) while serving as a quasi-father figure to the boy he was protecting. In this one, an unnamed man (Idris Elba, so charming that one hopes he’ll be in the third one) shows up at the cabin in the woods where Tyler is recovering from the previous mission and delivers a message from his ex-wife, who, as it turns out is Georgian. Her sister and her children are being held in a Georgian prison by her drug dealer husband Davit (Tornike Bziava), who had the clout to get them all ensconced with him. Rake is hired to bust the family out of prison and take them away from Davit and his brother Zurab (Tornike Gogrichiani), who’s even more of a psycho. Complications ensue. All you need to know is that the film is three long action sequences with a bit of character development sprinkled in.