Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Extraction


  The trailers for this movie made it look like fun. Cheap, mindless fun- but fun nonetheless. It looked adequate and fast paced. There was nothing to indicate it would be so boring and poorly acted. Now, I might seem a bit hypocritical judging this movie based on it's writing, directing, and acting, when I can give a movie like Invasion U.S.A. a hall pass without even blinking... but come on. That's implying that Kellan Lutz has the charisma and badass-gravitas of Chuck Fucking Norris. He doesn't by the way, and considering Bruce Willis' screentime might generously total out to maybe five minutes... Kellan is definitely the star of the movie alongside a completely wasted Gina Carano.

  The movie's worst and most fatal flaw aside from it's stupid story is it's dialog. Even well written lines are delivered so flat that it sounds like shitty dialog. It's even worse when the shitty dialog is delivered flatly. See, old action movies used to have actors who would chew scenery like crazy. Consider the villains of some of Van Damme's early flicks. Tong Po in Kickboxer, Fender in Cyborg, Chong Li in Bloodsport- and hell, why not The Sandman in Death Warrant? These villains were great because they were so over the top and they had flair. Nothing and no one has flair in Extraction. Though, why am I comparing it to Cannon movies you might ask? Because it basically is one and for once, that's not a compliment.

  It's basically Cannon-lite. It has all the shoddy parts of a Cannon flick, like the stupid story and the bad acting, but none of the amazing parts. None of the action scenes feature anything you haven't seen a hundred times already. From the Bourne movies, to the Fast & Furious franchise, this movie is less like an action packed ride, and more like a tax write-off. It's never more than competent. Even when there's a really well-choreographed fight scene, it lacks any sort of flair or unique edge to distinguish it from the hundreds of other movies just like it. I wanted to turn it off half way through, but far be it from be to spend seven dollars On Demand and not be able to at least walk away with enough to write a review on.

  Back to Cannon movies for a second- or better yet, exploitation movies, a genre that desperately needs to find it's footing in this day and age. Exploitation movies almost always had the same downfalls that this movie has, the bad plot, bad dialog, shoddy acting- etc. But, they almost always had something to set them apart from others as well. They would have crazy over-the-top scenes or sequences that would shock the hell out of audiences. Or, they would be so gratuitous with the sex and violence that you couldn't not walk away having been entertained. Sometimes, both the shock value and the gratuitousness would come into play. That's what made these genre flicks so endearing and appealing. They were aware of their flaws, and went hog-wild with what they knew they could do.

   Not to mention how creative they had to get. Some of the most inventive, unique, and creative action scenes came from otherwise really low budget and crappy movies. But, you don't watch a movie called No Retreat, No Surrender II for the acting and the story. So why is it such a problem when it comes to a flick like Extraction? Because there's nothing unique about it. I didn't pay for Extraction to see an interesting plot, or some good acting- but because the action scenes are so cookie-cutter standard, what am I left with? A smorgasbord of mediocrity- all you can eat.  I think filmmakers need to stop trying to be on par with a Bourne movie (which this flick was clearly trying to be at times) and they need to start embracing the trappings of their genre.

  The plot of this movie revolved around a macguffin called the "Condor". A computer-in-a-briefcase that can 'hack' everything. In one scene, it shuts down like... half of China. In seconds. The movie tries to play this with absolute seriousness, as it does everything else. Why? This could been a fun and over-the-top flick if it had just rolled with the craziness. The villain is boring and bland, the action scenes are barely ever anything you haven't seen Jason Bourne do- and do better. So what's the appeal here? There isn't any. Not even five minutes of Bruce Willis can save this flick. This genre of international political action/thrillers needs to step it's game up. I'm tired of seeing scenes where one old guy is standing behind a bunch of analysts with their faces in computers, all in a dimly lit room, with big info-graphic screens up in front, and the old guy says "We need to find him, now!"

  How many times have we seen that? Far too many. I've no problem with genre flicks, but this is a sub-genre built on nothing but mediocrity. Washed up former A-listers and MMA stars flock to them, but without having the liberty to infuse any flair or punch into it. It wouldn't cost a dime more to have good dialog, or better acting. I know Gina Carano can act better, she did well in Haywire. I can't speak for Lutz, but he seems like he had potential. We all know Willis has got it where it counts. And, just like that- I'm done with this review. An unceremonious wrap-up for a woefully forgettable movie.

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