It’s impossible to know what levels and types of espionage are undertaken to ensure the safety of a population from various internal and external threats. But if you were to believe the movies, it’s a lot and is generally unsanctioned or carried out by unauthorized operatives. These fantastical missions require exceptional skill, a tolerance for violence, an ironic distrust of authority and a foreseeable personal stake in the outcome. For better or worse, Extraction follows this formula to a tee.
After a traumatic experience as a child, Harry (Kellan Lutz) chose to follow in his father’s (Bruce Willis) footsteps and join the CIA. However, in spite of possessing the required skill set, he’s spent years cooped up at a desk waiting for approval to enter the field. But when his father is taken captive by terrorists, Harry unofficially takes on the assignment to find him with the help of Victoria (Gina Carano), an old flame from the academy. Together they work their way up the local criminal ladder until they find the location of an invaluable piece of tech, Harry’s dad and the mastermind behind the kidnapping.
The opening scene of a father on the phone with his young son as murderers enter his home makes it appear as if this is the intro to another version of Taken in which Willis must recover his son from a group of bad guys. But that option is removed relatively quickly. Instead the story fast-forwards to an adult Harry now more than capable of handling a similar situation. Audiences are informed of his abilities and intelligence, and then witness his seemingly unfostered penchant for brutality. Harry is understandably willing to do anything to find his father, but the speed in which he resorts to extreme violence is somewhat surprising.
The only other unexpected development is the significance of Victoria’s role in the picture (versus the need to give them a romantic history because the only way a man and woman could know each other is if they dated). When she’s not working side-by-side with Harry, she’s carrying out her own undercover jobs to gain information and get them closer to the truth. She’s also more than capable of handling herself, fighting for her life on more than one occasion. Unfortunately the list of unpredictable things in this film is incredibly short. Harry’s bloody quest across the city proceeds as expected with lots of punching, shooting and some stabbing. When the time comes, he’s also unoriginally betrayed — a “plot twist” that can be easily prophesied near the movie’s start.
Carano undoubtedly overshadows Lutz as she’s more physically capable and charismatic than him. In addition, she portrays the only really interesting role since it doesn’t fit squarely in the traditional formula.