The movie Extraction starring Chris Hemsworth is drawing rave reviews for its pulse-pounding action sequences. One particularly lauded scene features near the end of the first act in which Hemsworth's character Tyler Rake makes a break for it with his young charge, the son of a drug lord Ovi. Director of the movie Sam Hargrave spoke to Indiewire about how the 12-minute scene, involving explosions, car crashes, hand-to-hand fights, and a relentless chase came to be.
"It took us from conception to execution, probably four or five months. I had to write the scene to flow the right way and to let people know that it was one continuous take and where it went from here to there, because there were story points you had along the way. It can't just be an action scene for the sake of action, it has to hit the key story points and reveal things about character and show the development of the relationship between Tyler and Ovi. There are so many things in there that you have to tell."
Extraction tells the story of a black market mercenary, played by Hemsworth, who has to keep a son of drug lord safe from rival cartels, politicians, and the police in the heart of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The twelve-minute action sequence sets up the central conflict of the film, and Sam Hargrave had to think long and hard about what elements needed to be part of the scene.
"I started just thinking of gags and things that I wanted to see. I talked to the locations department and production designer and said, 'Hey, I want to find this kind of building with this kind of access, because I want to do this stunt, or I want narrow streets so that we feel claustrophobic and all the things that I want to see.' When they found a bunch of options, I'd go with them and we'd choose the best space."
As impressive as the shot is, it's not actually a single-take sequence, but instead uses clever editing and misdirection to give the impression of being a continuous shot. Bringing such a complex shoot together took a lot of practice before the actual shoot took place.
"We actually shot the sequence before we shot the sequence. I took a video camera and the stunt team, and we went out there and shot it all and kind of cut it together to make sure that these moments of blending worked. Logistically, we couldn't do it all twelve minutes at once, because one location was on this side of town and the other locations were on that side of town."
One positive side effect of the constant practice and multiple reshoots of the same scenes to pull off the complicated moves without a hitch was that the actors ended up looking convincingly exhausted in their final recordings.
"Because we're not cutting to a bunch of different angles, you couldn't just be like, 'Take a rest, Chris, we're gonna do an over-the-shoulder shot. No, Chris, you're in it.' It would have to be the actors doing the whole thing.' They've been going most of the day, and those looks of exhaustion and the deep breaths, those are real, it's hard to fake that stuff. They're all great actors, but there's a certain quality, a certain visceral, tangible feeling to the performance that you can only get by being in the real space and pushing actors as hard as we did."
Clearly, the entire team put their body and soul into the action scenes, and the result is evident onscreen. Extraction is available to stream on Netflix now, and has been received enthusiastically by action movie fans. This news comes from INdieWire.