Bullet Points: Extraction
I haven’t exactly been the biggest fan of actor Kellan Lutz. Maybe I just haven’t seen him in the right film yet. I recently watched and reviewed his 2013 film Java Heat and I didn’t see much that would make me believe he was at the top of the list when it came to this new generation of action stars. He certainly has the look of a hero. Even in Extraction, which also stars Gina Carano and Bruce Willis, Lutz plays the lead character who finds himself caught up in a CIA operation with a botched exchange putting a powerful weapon in the hands of the bad guys. But Extraction still felt like it was missing something. Maybe we’ll figure that out during this review. Read on.
Synopsis: A soon to be retired CIA field agent (Bruce Willis) is given one last mission but is soon captured and held by a group of terrorists. When the son (Kellan Lutz) of the legendary agent finds out there is no plan for rescuing his father, he takes matters into his own hands and launches a desperate attempt to find his father and the powerful weapon he was tasked with recovering before it gets used against the U.S.
- Opening Action: We first meet Leonard (Willis) in a precarious position. He’s in the middle of a mission where he listens over the phone as some guys break into his house and attack his family. The opening scene is one that happens 10 years earlier than the movie proper and it gives us a vast amount of background on the motivations of Leonard and Harry (Lutz) for the rest of the film. I don’t want to spoil it too much for those of you who haven’t watched it but lets just say that Leonard has plenty of reasons to be pissed and Harry has plenty of reasons to want to learn to handle himself like his father.
- Training Montage: Harry is older now and looks like Kellan Lutz. He really wants to be a field agent with the CIA but finds that every time he applies he gets turned down. It’s not from lack of trying. Kellan gets to experience the beauty of the training montage as we see him go from a pansy who can barely punch a heavy bag to a guy who really knows how to handle a bag. He runs through shooting drills, does a bunch of pushups, and beats up some martial arts instructors. Bruce would have been so proud.
- Business is about to pick up: Not a moment too soon, old man Leonard gets captured by some off screen terrorists and we learn that the object he had been sent to pick up was some secret CONDOR device that was totally powerful. I honestly don’t remember what it did but it was bad enough that as soon as it falls into the wrong hands everyone collectively shits their pants and then starts asking why they created it in the first place. What is good about the whole situation is that it gets Harry away from his training and desk job and back to the States in search of his father. You can bet he’ll have to punch a lot of people to solve this problem!
- Enter Carano: Harry soon runs into his old flame/class mate in Victoria, played by Gina Carano. As much as I like Gina (I still would have liked to see her as Wonder Woman), I didn’t feel like her and Kellan had very good chemistry together. They should have let her kick a few more asses, to be honest, but at least they didn’t fall into the trap of having her swoon over Harry for most of the movie.
- Potty Fight Scene: I am a bit torn on the fight scene between Lutz and an assassin (played by Ilram Choi)sent by the CIA to kill him that takes place in a men’s room. Lutz and Carano are both all up in a club trying to get close to a bad guy named Drake when Lutz gets a phone call from his buddy that warns him he’s been targeted. Moments later he’s duking it out with the assassin in a club bathroom that is totally empty. First off, no club bathroom in America is empty that late at night. Second off, it is a pretty cool looking fight scene. Veteran stunt coordinator Simon Rhee came up with the fights with his stunt team and this is one that will probably stay with the viewer the longest. My biggest problem with this scene specifically is that Lutz is a big and brawny guy but he never uses his size or strength to his advantage. The scene is also interspersed with Carano’s character getting discovered by Drake and his men, only to have her and Lutz team up and monkey stomp their asses in the middle of the dance floor. Not a security guard in sight….
- Bad Publicity: It’s a bad sign when any covert wing of the government makes the papers but you can be sure that the CIA is going to get some stern looks from the president after this debacle. I guess a movie wouldn’t be as exciting if all of the field agents were on the up and up. Has there ever been a movie where all of the agents are completely loyal to the government? Probably not any memorable ones.
Now read these Bonus Bullet Points before the government makes me delete them:
- Bruce Willis filmed all of his scenes in one day!
- There was an effort made by the director and fight coordinator to use as many objects in the fights as possible. You’ll notice that during each of the fights many of the combatants pick up things and use doors and such to their benefit. I dig it.
- This movie was filmed in Mobile, Alabama. World renowned for its night life.
The Verdict: Extraction is a movie that will not drive anyone away. It’s like a Jack Black movie; inoffensive but forgettable. That isn’t to say that there aren’t good things about it. I did like most of the fight scenes. I always enjoy Gina Carano beating people up and you can tell that Kellan Lutz is getting better but I just didn’t feel the connection between the two of them. The movie could have used a little more Bruce Willis but that’s a tough one to pull off when he’s barely on set. In the end, it really comes down to whether or not Kellan Lutz is your guy. He doesn’t do it for me as a leading man so I won’t be the first person standing in line for his next movie.