Producers: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Chris Hemsworth, Patrick Newall, Sam Hargrave, Mike Larocca, Angela Russo-Otstot, Eric Gitter and Peter Schwerin   Director: Sam Hargrave   Screenplay: Joe Russo   Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Golshifteh Farahani, Tornike Gogrichiani, Andro Japaridze, Adam Bessa, Daniel Bernhardt, Tinatin Dalakishvili, Olga Kurylenko, Tornike Bziava, Miriam and Marta Kovziashvili, Demetre Kavelashvili, Giga Shavadze, Dato Bakhtadze, Levan Saginashvili, George Lasha, Irakli Kvirikadze  and Idris Elba   Distributor: Netflix

Grade: C

The formula that worked for Netflix in 2020 with “Extraction” is repeated with even more flourishes in this sequel, in which Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth), the Aussie super-mercenary, is again enlisted to undertake an extraordinarily difficult rescue mission.  The first time around, he and his team were tasked with breaking the kidnapped son of an Indian drug kingpin from a hellhole prison in Dhaka, an effort energized by his guilt over abandoning his own boy as the lad was dying of cancer.  The film ended with Rake’s apparent death, but it turns out that he survived and is undergoing a long regimen of recuperation in Austria. 

In the midst of regaining his strength he’s approached by a mysterious man (Idris Elba) to undertake a new assignment: to break the wife and children of Davit (Tornike Bziava), a Georgian crime lord, from a prison in Tbilisi, where he has insisted they keep him company during his stay.  It’s given extra urgency by the fact that Davit’s wife Ketevan (Tinatin Dalakishvili) is the sister of Rake’s ex-wife Mia (Olga Kurylenko), and that Davit’s prison term has just been extended by a decade, infuriating his even more brutal brother Zurab (Tornike Gogrichiani), who promptly kills the official who apologetically brings him the news.  The degree of Zurab’s commitment to Davit is further emphasized by occasional flashbacks to the brothers’ childhood, when their father brutally impressed on nine-year old Zurab (Demetre Kavelashvili) his responsibility to defend the smaller Davit (Giga Shavadze) against anyone who bullied him.   

Zurab’s fury escalates when he learns that Davit has been killed trying to prevent the liberation of his family by Rake and his confederates Nik Khan (Golshifteh Farahani) and her brother Yaz (Adam Bessa).  He vows to “rescue” Ketevan and her children, teen Sandro (Andro Japaridze) and young Nina (played by twins Miriam and Marta Kovziashvili), from their rescuers, and the chase is on. 

But things are complicated by Sandro’s ambivalence about where his loyalties lie.  Though devoted to his mother and sister, he’s also angry about the death of his father, and Zurab plays on the boy’s reluctance to abandon his wider crime “family.” That induces him to make decisions that endanger Rake’s crew even as Rake reaches out to him in the fatherly fashion he feels he failed to extend to his own son.  So the film is in a sense a coming-of-age story for Sandro, who’s torn between his competing emotions, and, once again, as in the previous movie, a tale of Rake’s need to work out his own feelings of guilt.

But all of the screenplay’s attempts to build some depth into the characters—which also include the tight bond among Tyler, Nik and Yaz–are basically window-dressing.  “Extraction 2” is first and foremost about big-time set pieces, and it must be admitted that director Sam Hargrave, cinematographer Greg Baldi, editors Alex Rodriguez and William Hoy, the cast and stunt people pull them off with the sort of unremitting energy that’s expected in this sort of higher-end action fare nowadays.  The extended prison escape sequence toward the start, a wild confrontation involving a train and a helicopter toward the middle, another at a gleaming skyscraper in the second half, and the inevitable final face-off should satisfy devotees of such stuff, so long as they don’t expect the cartoonishly colorful visuals of a John Wick movie and will be content with the grittier, darker palette favored by Baldi and production designer Phil Ivey (Prague and Vienna provided the locations).  The score is by Henry Jackman and Alex Belcher, who are old hands at providing the sort of oomph that bolsters ongoing mayhem.

As for the actors, they try to add some human touches to the stick figures they’re playing insofar as the screenplay allows, but their main function is to serve as stereotypical cogs in the rough-and-tumble plot. Hemsworth is the solid if also rather stolid hunk at the center of things; in this case, charm is not a strong suit as it is in his Thor, but he does suffer soulfully, eyes welling up.  Farahani and Bessa add some of what he lacks, and Japaridze makes the most of troubled Sandro, while Gogrichiani is stonily scary as the implacable Zurab.  Everyone else is merely serviceable but for Elba, who, one imagines, will become a fixture if “Extraction” develops into a series that will feel like a lesser cousin of the “Mission Impossible” and “Fast and Furious” behemoths.

This movie is an almost perfect crystallization of what Shakespeare called sound and fury signifying nothing, but it should suffice for viewers looking for spectacular, if empty, action bombast.