Deconstructing the Hero: The Creative Journey of Netflix Film ‘Extraction’ Explained

Following its highly-anticipated release, the reunion of Chris Hemsworth with the Russo Brothers gained ground via the riveting action flick, Extraction, housed at the streaming powerhouse Netflix.

Netflix, AGBO Films, and TGIM Films, Inc. released the action-thriller earlier this week, landing on the number 1 spot on the Top 10 most watched content in the streaming service in the Philippines since its release on April 24, while also reported to top most popular movies list internationally. Sam Hargrave makes his directorial debut from an original script by Joe Russo of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame fame.

The two-hour high-octane thriller stars David Harbour (Stranger Things, Hellboy), Golshifteh Farahani (Paterson, Body of Lies), Randeep Hooda (Shooter, Sarbjit ), Priyanshu Painyuli (Bhavesh Joshi Superhero, Once Again), and newcomer Rudhraksh Jaiswal also star.

Related: Chris Hemsworth Reunites with the Russo Brothers in ‘Extraction’

The story, as we know it, revolves around a young boy who gets embroiled in a war waged by notorious drug lords in India and Bangladesh. Kept as a pawn in between this bloody power struggle, the boy was trapped by kidnappers inside one of the world’s most impenetrable cities, where the expertise of black market mercenary, Tyler Rake (played by Hemsworth) was then required.

Photo courtesy of Jasin Boland, Netflix

Joe Russo, who adapted the script from a graphic novel named Ciudad, was joined by Ande Parks in the development of the material about a decade ago. Extraction, to him, is a love letter to his love of the action-thriller genre since childhood, that eventually proved to be helpful in crafting 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.”

Following the development of the script, the tall order of finding the director fit for the material followed suit. The Russos zeroed in on Hargrave, with his rich background as one of the most accomplished stunt coordinators in Hollywood, with projects like Atomic Blonde to The Hunger Games, tucked nicely under his belt.

Photo courtesy of Jasin Boland, Netflix

With Hargrave’s ability to translate character through action, The Russo Brothers were particularly impressed having worked with him on the Marvel films, starting out as Chris Evans’s stunt double in earlier films and stunt coordinator for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame .

“The best action films are those where the action is used to illuminate character and their choices or motivations. The emotional life of the character is told through action. Sam does that brilliantly,” says Joe Russo in a statement.

To which, Anthony Russo adds, “Sam performs, choreographs, and shoots virtuosic action cinema, but what makes his work truly resonate, is that he does so with the eye and hand of an artist. This film is perfectly aligned with him in that it is a hardcore action movie with a soul. He delivers the thrills of an epic action movie, while also delivering the heart and humanity found in the most compelling dramas.”

Photo courtesy of Jasin Boland, Netflix

“I’m honored to be working with a talent like Chris Hemsworth and to continue my collaboration with Joe and Anthony Russo, who have been great mentors of mine,” shared Hargrave, who also previously directed second unit on action blockbusters such as Avengers: Infinity War, Atomic Blonde, and The Accountant.

In great lengths, the Russo’s understood the importance of finding the right backdrop for the film. “This film is geographically important, as it’s also about a foreigner going into an unfamiliar environment and the relationship between that environment and the character,” highlights Joe Russo.

While the story was originally set in South America, the powerhouse tandem began looking for a different backdrop–one that audiences might be less familiar with, grounding the story in a region rarely seen in Hollywood films.

The core team of filmmakers began scouting for locations across Australia, Bangladesh, Thailand and throughout India in July 2018. “India — especially Kolkata with its large Bengali community — was the obvious choice to best recreate Dhaka,” notes executive producer, Patrick Newall.

Photo courtesy of Jasin Boland, Netflix

Shot in India and Thailand with an international cast and crew, Hargrave was joined by talented behind-the-scenes team including cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel (Bohemian Rhapsody, Drive ), production designer Phil Ivey (Elysium, District 9 ), and editors Peter B. Ellis (The Morning Show, Deadly Class) and Ruthie Aslan (Deadly Class, The Goldbergs ).

The film was shot in and around Ahmedabad, India for 20 days. while the remainder of the film’s 58-day schedule was filmed in Thailand. Over eleven different locations were sourced and used around the city including tenements, underpasses, roads suitable for vehicle stunts, rooftops and the huge modern mansion where the story establishes the home of Ovi and understand his sensitivity and his isolated loneliness.

At the heart of it, is the richness and depth portrayed by Hemsworth. Jumping on board, he said, “Joe sent me the script when we were shooting the last A vengers and I loved it. 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.”

While the film is an explosive, riveting action feature, the character of Tyler Rake is more complicated than your run-of-the-mill hero. Physically strong, but is emotionally guarded, Rake is a layered man, who rediscovers his sense of humanity through his unlikely relationship with the young boy he’s hired to rescue.

Photo courtesy of Jasin Boland, Netflix

“He has the physical stature to put up with the punishment his character goes through. But there’s also another side to Chris — an emotional grit that we’ve only seen flashes of but was always there,” describes Hargrave on the Hemsworth performance.

“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.

To allow Hemsworth step into the character with greater dimensions and dexterity, they helped the actor become comfortable with this instrument as organically as possible. Hargrave said, “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.”

Joe Russo then added, “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.

Photo courtesy of Jasin Boland, Netflix

Watch the trailer of Extraction here: