27 April 2020

Some Very White-Knuckle Action

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If Eve was made from a piece of Adam's rib then I'd suggest that Chris Hemsworth was grown from a sliver of God's own cock. Have you seen Chris Hemsworth? Has he been here since the dawn of time? Because he looks like the archetypal alpha-human that the rest of us mere mutants might have once spawned from. I see him as that first completely pure wolf to walk out of the forest before being bred with increasingly inferior creatures until you've ended up with us.. his Shih Tzu descendants. We're the bastard mongrels of his original super-being and I feel fucking sick about myself. As an atheist I find the Garden Of Eden to be quite a farfetched story but if I'd not seen Chris Hemsworth with my own eyes then I'd probably say the same about him. There might not be any treacherous snake involved here but have you seen Hemsworth's arms? In his new action film Extraction, they're so fat and veiny that they looked like a close-up of a porn stars dick. After years of being exposed to unnecessarily misogynistic online pornography, my brain had been conditioned to expect him to shout, “choke on this, you bitch”, every time he'd punch somebody in the face. I don't know where the filmmakers took inspiration from for these fight scenes but they reminded me of a blooper reel from fucking Deep Throat. At one point in this film, he jumps off a cliff and lands straight into the sea which I can only assume was a special effect for fear of the ensuing tsunami being an extinction-level event that would devastate our entire fucking planet had it been done for real. 

The irony is that all of that might arguably be the biggest problem for his new Netflix film, Extraction. The movie begins with a young Indian kid being kidnapped and Hemsworth's black-market mercenary Tyler Rake being hired to get him back. What's his name? I hear you ask in confusion. Yes, his name is Tyler Rake and yes.. at one point he does kill somebody with a fucking rake. I have no clue how they came up with his name but I suppose we should all be grateful that they didn't just settle with Bobby Butt-Plugs instead. It is, however, a shame that they settled on the old 'white saviour' cliché as the crux of their entire fucking film though I suppose. The kid is taken by non-white captors who have an army of non-white goons working for them and with the film revelling in having the heroically, and white, Chris Hemsworth kick the living shit out of them. I don't think this was intended maliciously but rather because the filmmakers have accidentally stumbled into a cinematic trope that we really should have done away with by now. There are a few moments in which a little nuance is attempted and it's suggested that Hemsworth's character might not be the moral superior that he's presented as. But he's still a bad-ass who spends two hours beating the shit out of a never-ending conveyor belt of darker-skinned goons. And I know that this 'white saviour' thing isn't exclusively Hemsworth's fault but he is an Aryan poster boy that's even more perfect than the Nazi's could have once dared to dream. Seeing normal people on-screen with him is like watching a pig fuck a donkey because it just doesn't seem right and it doesn't seem fair. 

There is however an action scene about thirty minutes into the movie which is frankly fucking incredible. “The representation in the movie is a little dubious,” I thought to myself before a fight started and, “oh - hang on a second, this punchy scene is a bit fun”. Extraction is the directorial debut of Sam Hargrave who had previously made a name for himself as the stunt coordinator on both the Marvel films and 2017s punch-a-thon Atomic Blonde. If you remember the insane single-take fight in that later movie then it's clear what Hargrave was aiming to beat. Extraction has a fight that begins as a car chase before becoming a shoot-out that descends into a punch up that ramps back up into being a knife-fight before eventually concluding as a truck chase and then an explosion. Like Atomic Blonde this is all made to look like it was captured in just the one take too with it having such a kinetic energy in its twelve-minute running time that I felt it shat all over 1917s recent effort of making an entire movie this way. I was trying to figure out why this scene was so cool whereas the one-shot of 1917 felt like being stuck on a rickety old ghost-train and I think it's simply down to the fact that the fight in Extraction follows more than just the one person. There's only one main character in 1917 and as the film follows him, the tracking shot begins to feel as though it's taking place entirely on rails. By contrast the camera flies around the chaos of the multiple characters here to the point that it reminded me of those corridor sequences from Scooby-Doo. You know the one in which the gang run back and forth through a series of doors with different people constantly appearing in and out of each one. It was like that but if the animators had been paid upfront in coffee and fucking cocaine. 

Perhaps the problem is that, despite some insanely watchable action, there's very little else worth sticking about for here. If this was a porno then it'd be one that gives just as much time to why the boiler actually needs fixing, and who cares about that? Extraction is pretty much just another version of Man On Fire but with less time dedicated to characterisation than Tony Scott's under-rated 2004 revenger in which a man gets a bomb up his bum. If the villains had been given even one ounce of personality perhaps they'd have felt a little less caricatured, but as things stand they felt perfectly designed for use in a Trump campaign film. At one point a villain starts throwing children off a roof for no hugely obvious reason. Well, other than the fact that children are annoying of course. I appreciate that the filmmakers were likely trying to find a quick way of establishing the characters' moral leanings but I'd argue that perhaps there are more subtle ways of doing that than instantly settling on infanticide. Even Hemsworth's character is paper-thin, with little going on beyond a tragic backstory that seems to exist solely to justify a stage-direction that likely said, “the war-cracker feels a sad one here”. In general, Hemsworth is an absolute exaggeration of a human and the idea that you could cast him in a role that was intended to be gritty feels pretty misjudged. This is a character called Peter Lawnmower or Daryl Sprinkler or Johny Hosepipe or whatever the fuck he was called? Hemsworth is at his best when he has his tongue in his cheek and is fully aware that he's essentially a live-action cartoon character and that's what this film should have been. 

Do you know who this movie would have been fucking perfect for? Gerard fucking Butler! Playing 'gritty' characters in clearly ludicrous movies that have somewhat dubious politics are his bread and butter. Hemsworth's character is meant to be depressed but does he look depressed? Of course, he fucking doesn't. He's six foot two and looks like he could make my skull explode by just squeezing it. Note that I said skull there and not the head. I didn't want you thinking I meant my dick. I wasn't picturing him crushing my dick. No sir-ee... My point is that surely you can't maintain that level of physical perfection when you're depressed? Or maybe you can but I just know that when I'm feeling depressed the last thing I want to do is a thousand fucking press-ups and then eat five fucking chickens. But would I believe Gerard Butler as a depressed character called Tyler Rake? Of course, I would. Look at him. He's Scottish. Had this been a Butler movie I'd have likely left it thinking it was a bit generic but still one of the better-made examples of his kind of shit. The action in Butler's films are generally muddled and unwatchable and so this would have been a real step up for him. The movie would have ended and I've have thought, “that was another dubious depiction of another race but at least he's shown improvement on the action. Maybe Butler can be taught?”. I'm not saying that this is a bad movie and that you shouldn't watch it. It's an average movie that's problems are simply highlighted by the golden-glow of its lead actor. It's fine. It killed two hours and I barely questioned my sexuality even once... What more can you want from a film starring Chris Hemsworth? Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time. 

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