17th Dec2013

‘Extraction’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jon Foo, Falk Hentschel, Vinnie Jones, Joanne Kelly, Sean Astin, Danny Glover | Written and Directed by Tony Giglio

extraction-cast

The first studio produced feature film made specifically for the internet – in this particular case the Sony-owned Crackle.com – Extraction comes from writer/director Tony Giglio – a man whose work, as long time readers of my reviews will know, I am a huge fan of… Previously responsible for scripting the likes of Chaos (which he also directed), Death Race 2 and 3 and the fantastic backwoods slasher Timber Falls, I have yet to be disappointed by his genre work. Hell, he managed to reboot the Death Race franchise on DVD and, with its third film, surpass the original movie! Now to some that might sound sycophantic to some but in all honesty I have yet to be disappointed by the man’s work…

His latest film, Extraction, follows U.S. Black Ops team member Mercy Callo who finds himself the only survivor of a botched prisoner extraction mission. Forced to fight his way out of a maximum-security Chechen prison, he must keep his target alive in order to catch a terrorist arms-dealer who is a threat to thousands of lives. Now you might be thinking: “Hang on, that sounds a bit like The Raid”, well you’d be right – but that’s not a bad thing. Especially when you have the likes of Jon Foo as your lead. I was impressed by Foo when he starred as Jin Kazama in the Tekken movie and here even more so. I have no doubt, given the skills he displays here, that he could hold his own against the Indonesian stars of Gareth Evans’ popular fight flick. I might even say he’d make for a fantastic lead in any forthcoming US remake..? (Sorry Scott Adkins fans – and I’m including myself amongst them).

Packed with familiar faces, including Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon), Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), Joanne Kelly (Warehouse 13) and Vinnie Jones, once again playing the bad guy, Extraction is essentially a film of two halves – one half set in the Black Ops HQ where all the “star names” hang-out (no butt-kicking action for them) and the other set in the maximum-security Chechen prison where Foo’s soldier Mercy Callo must battle for his freedom. And whilst Joanne Kelly, Sean Astin and co. provide the films plot, Jon Foo provides all the action; and it’s this action-packed half which provides the most fun and the most surprises. You see the film was shot in a mere 18 days, with almost no CGI, and yet manages to out-do all of 2013′s big action blockbusters.

Why?

Well for one the filmmakers weren’t looking for a cinema-friendly PG-13 action flick that can bring in the teen crowd – no, this is a balls-to-the-wall action flick the likes of which American hasn’t really made since the heady days of Die Hard, Under Siege et al. And two: the action… oh, all of the beautiful action. Featuring some of the best fight sequences ever in an American production, Extraction‘s action feels all too real – no doubt because the film features real stuntmen and real martial artists’ performances for once. There’s no CG-enhanced fights, no stunt doubles, just pure fighting skill and some stunning choreography which showcases the participants and their abilities not the skills of the editor!

Dare I say it, but with Extraction Tony Giglio has made America’s answer to The Raid – it’s just a shame it’s gone straight to the ‘net (here’s hoping someone gives the film the Blu-ray treatment soon, the format would really let the fights shine). And here’s hoping someone gives Giglio the reigns, and the money, to make a big-screen action flick soon too – with this film he’s proven he’s easily up there with the likes of Tony Scott, Andrew Davis and John McTiernan as one of America’ best action movie writer/directors and deserves to have more than just DTV fans know it.

If you’re in the US you can watch Extraction now (for free) on Crackle.com until the end of January 2014.

***** 5/5

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