Chris Hemsworth in Extraction 2 (2023)

‘Extraction II’ movie review: Czech locales and nonstop action highlight Netflix sequel

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Tyler Rake returns from the dead to perform another impossible rescue mission in Extraction II, which filmed in the Czech Republic during the winter of 2021-22 and is now streaming worldwide on Netflix. Bigger and bolder than the first film – with a knockout 21-minute one-take sequence guaranteed to drop jaws – only the presence of John Wick 4 keeps this from being the must-see action movie of 2023.

Like the latest Wick movie, Extraction II splits the narrative between world-building backstory and pulse-pounding action scenes so intense we appreciate the occasional breather. The first Extraction film, which became one of Netflix’s most-seen original films when it debuted on the platform in 2020, was a more dialed-in, straightforward affair, and a little easier to take because of it. But this one goes for something greater and tops it in just about every way.

Extraction II stars Chris Hemsworth as Tyler Rake, an elite black op mercenary who specializes in high-risk rescue missions. We pick up with him right where the last film left off: at the bottom of a Dhaka river, left for dead after a successful job. But death is fleeting for a man like Rake, and soon he washes to shore and into a Dubai hospital before colleagues Nik (Golshifteh Farahani) and Yaz Khan (Adam Bessa) set him up at an isolated Austrian cottage to heal.

But before Rake can mend his broken wing, a mystery man (Idris Elba, billed as Alcott in the credits) shows up with an offer he can’t refuse: hitherto unmentioned ex-wife Mia (played by Olga Kurylenko in a third-act cameo) has requested his help extracting her sister Ketevan (Tinatin Dalakishvili) from a Georgian prison, where she has been imprisoned alongside her two children.

They’ve been locked up alongside Ketevan’s husband Davit (Tornike Bziava), a ruthless Georgian gangster, allegedly for their own protection — though Davit himself has no qualms about terrorizing them himself. Outside of prison, Davit’s brother Zurab (Tornike Gogrichiani) attempts to organize his release,

Extraction II‘s showstopping action sequence come just twenty minutes into the movie, during a 21-minute scene filmed as if it were a single take that follows Rake breaking into the jail, dealing with Davit, navigating a brutal prison riot, and making a getaway by car and then train with helicopters on his tail. It is breathless, thrilling stuff, and dazzles both on a narrative level as well as a how-did-they-do-that filmmaking one.

And while this opening action scene is better than anything in the first movie, Extraction II can’t help but feel front-loaded: nothing else in this sequel can match the raw energy on display here, although an elaborate shootout and fight atop Vienna’s DC Tower Complex comes awfully close.

Unlike the first movie, Extraction II is not the Tyler Rake show, and it’s all the better for it: Nik and Yaz are fighting right alongside the protagonist for most of the film, and Farahani, especially, gets to strut her stuff as a formidable action movie star. That makes the finale, as Rake sets off by himself to tie up loose ends, the weakest portion of the film.

The dense narrative of Extraction II, which involves a lot of character-focused backstory, is pretty boilerplate stuff; in that regard, the clean no-nonsense story of the first film is preferable. But the first movie was happy to leave its protagonist for dead while this one is attempting to establish a franchise, so fair enough.

It’s the other half of Extraction II — a good 50 minutes of nonstop action that represents some of the best ever filmed — that gives this movie its real appeal. While there’s little variance in the extraction mission itself, the wintry Czech locations, filling in for rural Georgia and Austria, help set this movie apart from its predecessor.

While some audiences may not find a lot to like here, for action aficionados Extraction II is really the cream of the crop. Producers Joe and Anthony Russo delivered some fine work in last year’s The Gray Man, which also shot in Prague, but writer-director Sam Hargrave has set a new standard for Netflix action movies here.

Extraction II

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Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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