Why Netflix's Extraction Was One of Chris Hemsworth's Most Challenging Filming Experiences
"The entire film for me was the most exhausting ride I've ever been on," says Chris Hemsworth. He's talking about shooting director Sam Hargrave's Extraction, the Netflix film where he stars as Tyler Rake, a black-market mercenary with nothing to lose. "There was such a sense of accomplishment each day, to be honest, for each sequence we'd shoot because it was so challenging."
He singles out one specific sequence, a "oner," wherein they had to get it all done in one very long, uninterrupted shot, one of the most taxing shots to do. The incredibly challenging 12-minute sequence had Hemsworth in the thick of it and Hargrave, with the camera on the front of the car, driving through buildings. "Once we pulled it off—it was about a two-week shoot—I think we truly felt like we had done something pretty unique and pretty special," he says.
Tyler Rake isn't all action, however. In early discussions of the film, Hemsworth and Hargrave avoided making the character one-dimensional or, as Hemsworth puts it, "you know, the hero of the film: simple, indestructible Terminator-rescue." Instead, Rake is flawed, vulnerable, emotionally complicated with demons. This dictated his kamikaze-esque suicidal fighting style with little to no regard for his safety.
The painstaking development shows with Rake and Ovi's (Rudraksh Jaiswal) scenes as a mercenary and rescue mission. It's a part of Rake that's borrowed from Hemsworth's experiences as a father. "Anytime there's something you can relate to, I mean, having children myself, the idea that any of that being jeopardized or threatened, there's an extra layer of truth within your performance that you can use."
As stunt director-turned-film director Hargrave's first feature, the action is undoubtedly one of the highlights. He says being able to direct Extraction was something he worked really hard on. "Every time I was designing action sequences I was practicing for directing, because it was always telling a story through action. It was never action for the sake of action or to make something look cool just to be cool. It always had to move the story forward or reveal something about character," he says.
There's a lot more to it than meets the eye, though. The crew worked overtime over the course of several days rehearsing, says Hargrave, to perfect all the sequences.
"Designing an action sequence is crazy. If you don't have the talent to get it done and to perform it to the level that you need it's just bad theater. We rehearsed a lot, and Chris put in many hours and hard work into the rehearsal process for these action scenes. I think it's just a side of Chris Hemsworth that people haven't really seen, not to this level. They've seen him as Thor when he swings the hammer and punches people in the face but this is a next-level bit of action," Hargrave says.
Between the action sequences and character development, the film needed extra preparation for all the on-location scenes in Thailand and India. Hargrave notes that Joe Russo, who wrote the screenplay, did a very smart thing to set it in that part of the world—something audiences don't see often.
"In Thailand, we went through 72 different bridges until we found the one that ended up in the movie. That's a lot of time and effort to find a bridge, but there's a lot of things that come into it, you know. It's like lighting direction, the length of the bridge, and the height of the bridge—a lot of things that come into it," Hargrave says.
The cast and crew's effort to do something unique and different is evident. Hargrave's hands-on nature behind the camera through all the sequences gives the film an irreplicable energy, which is rarely seen alongside impressive action.
"It's a fine sort of dance between having incredible action where you're invested in it because it's visually new and unique and exciting," says Hemsworth.