Just how do action heroes get third party insurance?
What I’ve Been Watching. Tim Robinson has been watching Extraction 2 on Netflix.
And if you were shot through the back of your hand while hanging one-handed off the top of a skyscraper it might make you lose your concentration.
I've been pondering these questions since watching Extraction 2 - the No.1 rated film on Netflix for two weeks running.
The sequel to Extraction, it’s not a documentary about the eternal search for an NHS dentist. It’s a full-on “against-all-odds high-octane thrill-ride” about a mercenary called Tyler Rake who must rescue the family of a Georgian gangster.
In the process, Rake (Chris Hemsworth) kills at least 29 people (online body counts vary) in a huge range of inventive ways - machine guns, grenades, rocket launchers and pistols being the most conventional.
Less ordinary despatch methods include crushing someone’s head with a set of gym weights and catapulting a baddie off a gym treadmill into oblivion.
He doesn't actually kill anyone with a rake - although someone else does, which I suspect is an in-joke from the director, former stuntman Sam Hargrave.
Apparently it’s getting more and more difficult to show people being killed with new and original brutality.
So for a touch of realism Hargrave has been taking inspiration from Youtube ‘fail’ videos featuring people falling over railings and knackering themselves on trampolines.
The whole film revels in glorious animated carnage but if you think it’s over the top, you should see Extraction 1 - Tyler Rake kills 183 (yes, 183) people in that.
Action films have for a long time been morphing into the same narrative as shoot-em-up video games.
There’s always an utterly breathtaking one-take, no-cuts shot as the hero works his way through a factory, a train, a car chase, or all three - relentlessly killing baddies as they pop up.
And the hero - Tyler Rake, John Wick, John McClane, Ethan Hawke - is always completely indestructible.
At one point in Extraction 2, Rake takes cover from the blast of a helicopter railgun behind a ladder.
Which you can see through.
Even though he’s been beaten, strangled and shot multiple times a couple of hours’ rest, some self-stitching and a few push-ups later he’s back in the saddle blasting away baddies.
It’s all great entertainment, but it’s getting repetitive now and my mind has begun to wander to more detailed plot matters - namely:
1 After the car chases, who clears up the demolished market stalls and sorts out the insurance claims for the demolished chase cars (there’s another, perhaps less thrilling, film in this).
2 What happens to all the bodies? The 183 corpses generated in Extraction 1 must have been a bonanza for the Dhaka undertaker industry.
3 What does Tyler Rake’s no claims bonus look like? I bet he has a hell of a job at the car rental place at the airport.
4 What about the families of the baddies? Picture this: “We’re terribly sorry, your son/husband was killed in a very unusual accident when he was stabbed, electrocuted and made to swallow a hand grenade.”
And when it comes to the baddies I could linger here on how they’re all . . . . of a type.
By that I mean Eastern European.
It used to be all English baddies in ‘80s US action films, then Russians - these days they’re Chechens or in the case of Extraction 2, Georgians.
There’s no doubt many a film school thesis on how the baddie reflects the geopolitical and racial prejudices of Hollywood.
Interestingly enough, in many Chinese-made action flicks the go-to baddie actor is an Englishman from St Neots called Kevin Lee (who often plays an American).
Perhaps one day Netflix will provide us with an action film that answers all my questions - until then I can’t wait for Extraction 3.