COMMENT:

There are few original movies Netflix makes that don't fit into three categories.

The first is awards bait, really great films with committed performances from lauded filmmakers – the likes of Marriage Story, Mudbound, Roma or The Irishman.

Then you get low-budget, cheesy movies that in an earlier era would have been "straight to video" or TV movies, starring pretty up-and-comers in their 20s who then become "Netflix famous" and attract a fanbase of teens on Instagram.

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Anything about Christmas romances or starring Noah Centineo fits in here.

The third are big budget blockbusters with massive movie stars such as Mark Wahlberg or Ryan Reynolds. The spectacle attracts tens of millions of people (or so we're told), but there's a stink about them.

They tend to over-rely on star power and things going boom with little regard for story or characterisation.

Netflix's latest original movie, Extraction, belongs in this third category, though it is, mercifully, nowhere near as abominable as that Will Smith fairy thing Bright.

Headlined by Chris Hemsworth, who also served as a producer, Extraction is the story of a former special forces soldier turned mercenary named Tyler Rake, who, despite the extremely American moniker, is Australian and has, of course, a tragic backstory.

Tyler is hired to extract Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), a sweet teenage boy and the son of an Indian drug kingpin, who has been kidnapped by his father's rival.

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Tyler rescues him pretty quickly from where the sadistic villain is holding him in the Bangladeshi city of Dhaka, but the real challenge is getting both of them out of town.

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Dhaka is ruled by Amir the crime lord who has control of the city's police and army and has blocked all bridges and roads out.

So Tyler must do what Tyler must do – shoot 'em all dead - and the body count ratchets up by the hundreds.

Also, if that sounds familiar, it's because it's treading very similar ground to Tony Scott's 2004 movie Man On Fire, in which Denzel Washington is a former marine turned high-end bodyguard who shoots up half of Mexico when nine-year-old Dakota Fanning is kidnapped.

Ovi even plays the piano like little Dakota's character, and he's similarly kidnapped by people either dressed as cops or are cops. If you've seen Man On Fire, you've basically seen Extraction.

Extraction is an action movie that is thrilling when guns are firing, punches are being thrown and cars are being chased.

Extraction is like Man On Fire, but on a different continent. Photo / AP
Extraction is like Man On Fire, but on a different continent. Photo / AP

When those things aren't happening, when it's attempting some form of dialogue or plot or introducing characters that have no dimension, it's boring as hell – if you're failing at the heftier side of storytelling, stop jamming so much of it in.

Take a beat from John Wick and just go back to the action already, geez.

Because where Extraction should get credit, it is for its action sequences. First-time director Sam Hargrave has made his name not as a filmmaker but as a stunt co-ordinator and stuntman, mostly famously doubling for Chris Evans as Captain America.

John Wick was similarly helmed by first-timers Chad Stahelski and (uncredited) David Leitch, who were both stuntmen.

It means the action choreography in Extraction is tight and exhilarating – if not a little squelchy, oh yes, there's all kinds of squelching going on so if the sight of fake blood oozing from ravaged body parts make you queasy, you're forewarned.

The fight sequences incorporate the realism of how bruising and exhausting it is to take on a dozen enemies at once, and that gives it real(ish) stakes.

The highlight has to be a 12-minute single-take tracking shot in which Tyler and Ovi are being chased through a building by dozens of combatants that includes hand-to-hand, gun fights, car chases and jumping off a roof.

It's a really impressive bit of filmmaking even if it can feel like you're watching a video game at times.

The action is what saves Extraction from being totally written off considering its story and characters are so generic – the screenplay from Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame) does it no favours.

At a time when movie theatres are shut and there are few cinematic experiences being released to digital platforms, there is still value in a movie like Extraction which can deliver some popcorn thrills if not anything substantial beyond that.

Rating: 2.5/5