Extraction Blu-ray Review
Mid-budget action flicks can be an incredibly mixed bag but they tend to rely pretty heavily on the editing and casting of some of the middle-level characters. It seems like more and more action flicks of all kinds have pretty serviceable action elements. Moderate budgets tend to get pretty decent names, at least one or two at the top level, though it is rare that they are actually in the movie for more than 5 or 10 minutes. Doing this effectively requires a script that uses a strict economy of words and action, and this is not where EXTRACTION excels (somewhat surprising given the credibility of indie filmmaker and music video director Steven C. Miller, who really takes some nice steps here despite the somewhat flawed final product.
I had hoped most of these concerns would be handled by Miller who has done some nice work with small budgets in his previous projects (SILENT NIGHT, 2012; SUBMERGED, 2015) but it wasn’t quite meant to be. Miller, like many music video directors who made the transition to features (and far too many others in this YouTube generation, in my humble opinion) tends to rely too much on jump cuts and a constant bombardment of information rather than relying on strong performances and plot… it’s kind of small-budget ‘Michael Bay terminally cannot focus syndrome’ – action that it utterly impossible to follow thanks to being given no anchor in the real world. Though, in Miller’s defense (and not Bay’s) he didn’t really have a story or star to carry the feature. Still, it leaves you wanting more.
EXTRACTION stars Kellan Lutz, who was introduced to the world as Emmett Cullen in the TWILIGHT franchise. His small role in that franchise and larger role in 2014’s THE LEGEND OF HERCULES provided some indication Lutz simply isn’t ready for a role like this, despite Miller and company’s best efforts. Despite Lutz, we’re left with a competent, if incredibly middling, film at the end of the day that plays too often like a misogynistic music video even though it has one of the most kick butt women of all time, Gina Carano (DEADPOOL, 2016).
Carano, a Muay Thai Fighter, who amazed the world long before the Ronda Rousey craze of 2015. She had a great 2015 and looks to have an even greater 2016 with DEADPOOL and several other films in the works. And yet, here she is in yet another role that comes nowhere near passing the the Bechtel test (let alone this movie in general, the character itself is a disgrace to female ‘agents’ and was a real disappointment), constantly ceding to Lutz’s character even though she is the senior agent and waiting to be rescued.
EXTRACTION also stars D.B. Sweeney as Ken Robertson (Lutz’s mentor and his father’s best friend) and Bruce Willis as legend CIA field agent Leonard Turner. The elder Turner has had a chip on his shoulder with the administration at the CIA since his wife was murdered when an operation went sideways. But when Turner goes missing trying to recover an incredibly dangerous piece of tech, his son decides he can’t just sit back and watch events unfold. So, with help from Robertson, young Turner strikes out (on domestic soil, no less) to find and save his Dad.
EXTRACTION suffers severely from a lack of any real emotional anchor. The early scenes when that should be established are too campy on one end (DB Sweeney, I’m looking at you) and far too serious on the other (Mr. Willis, please) – and that kind of perfectly encapsulates the primary issue I had with EXTRACTION, it’s kind of all or nothing and it really turns out to be, well, less than desired.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1.78:1) The video presentation of EXTRACTION is quite good in terms of quality but the action is really hard to follow and frequently disorienting (which is a result of some choppy editing).
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio track is considerably less strong, with frequent fluctuations between highs and lows that make finding that sweet spot where you can hear everything without being overwhelmed. A real disappointment.
Commentary with director Steven C. Miller and Actor Kellan Lutz The commentary track on EXTRACTION feels a lot like the movie itself, with few highs and a lot of low points. There are quite a few moments where both Miller and Lutz stop to admire their work, which I don’t particularly mind in an independent film, but Lutz in particular doesn’t really sell himself or his work very well. Miller is actually engaging (a sentiment echoed by both cast a crew who have worked with him) and he really cares about his film. It makes me sad it was so far below some of his past works.
Deleted/Extended Scenes – 4 scenes are included (04:42) Strangely, one of these scenes (the one with the least likely title) is the ONE scene that might have given EXTRACTION a bit of an emotional core… or at least the tiniest bit of believability. But instead they chose to cut this few moments from the middle of the movie and the implications that are cut with the scene change the way this critic, at the very least, viewed Lutz’s character and his relationship with Carano’s Victoria… I’m not sure how this would have changed the tone in context but I’m positive it would have helped. Scenes include: Mechanic Garage; Cowboy Bulls**t Extended; The Free World is at Stake; and Let’s Roll Extended
The Making of EXTRACTION (12:57) Cast and crew discuss the story in a way that’s a bit too spoilery for my taste. There are some pretty nice moments here, though, that really did remind me how much I love the freedom of independent features and what they can do versus someone who has to constantly answer to a huge studio.
Cast/Crew Interviews (29:10) Interview footage featured in other special features throughout the EXTRACTION Blu-ray package, these seven interviews are pretty nicely edited together yet are incredibly frustrating to watch after viewing the other special features because so much of the material is regurgitated… which is kind of what EXTRACTION feels like a lot of the time. Huh… weird. The interviews include a few minutes with each of the following: Director Steven Miller; actors Kellan Lutz, Gina Carano, D.B. Sweeney, Dan Bilzerian, Joshua Mikel, Director of Photography Brandon Cox.
The Blu-ray also features a trailer for EXTRACTION as well as trailers for 7 other Lionsgate features and the Blu-ray comes with a Digital HD UltraViolet Digital Copy of EXTRACTION as well.