There’s edge-of-the-seat action and a memorable car chase sequence but what really attracted Chris Hemsworth to Extraction was the beautiful heart of the story set in Bangladesh and India.
The Australian actor, best known as Thor from the Avenger movies, plays a black market mercenary who takes on the dangerous mission of rescuing the child of an Indian drug lord from his ruthless rival in Dhaka.
Being on the set of the film felt like a different experience altogether, said the actor about the Netflix film that drops on Friday.
Hemworth has also co-produced Extraction, written by Endgame director Joe Russo. The film marks the directorial debut of Sam Hargrave who worked as a second unit director and stunt coordinator on Avengers films.
“I read the script right before we were doing Avengers’. Joe sort of pitched it to me. It was pretty heavily dominated by action but as I started talking to him more about it, I noticed that there is this beautiful heart throughout the movie. There is tragedy and a bond between my character (Tyler Rake) and Ovy (played by Indian child actor Rudhraksh Jaiswal), which is the heart and soul of the movie,” Hemsworth told a group of international journalists on the Bangkok set of the movie.
He said he had done plenty of action as Thor on the Marvel films but there is quite a big break “between different sequences and lot of green screen and air conditioned stage”.
“This is damn dirty and rotten. It’s crazy but I’m incredibly proud of what we have attempted, which in the industry terms is sort of a continuous type of sequences, longer than what has been attempted before,” Hemsworth said.
Having worked with Hargrave on Avengers, Hemsworth said he knew what the director was capable of. Hargrave, he believed, had not only directed stunning action pieces in the film, but also let him explore himself in the quieter moments.
“He’s such a sensitive soul. He has this wonderful emotional intelligence that he embodies, which then has a sort of ripple effect throughout his filmmaking.Lot of the dramatic scenes in this and quiet, intimate moments I’ve gone to places that I hadn’t really explored before,” Hemsworth said.
Hargrave is also confident that people will get to see a different side of Hemsworth in the movie.
“This film has given him the opportunity to just flex his acting muscles that maybe he hasn’t before I have followed his career, but I haven’t seen a performance like what we have got. I think he identified with the material,” the director said.
Hargrave read the script of Extraction six years ago while working with Russo and wanted to be involved in some way. Turning director with the film felt like a natural progression.
“It’s more responsibility. But I always, even as a second unit director or stunt coordinator, took on as much responsibility as I could. And it always felt like I was in part directing the movie because I felt responsible and very involved in the action and even the writing of those scenes. It’s a lot more, but it feels like a natural progression,” the director added.
The film was shot on location in India, Australia and Thailand. Hargrave is proud of the shooting he did in India, including the famous car chase sequence that appears in the trailer.
“We shot it in India, which is an amazing feat. To my knowledge, no action movie or action scene of that scale has been done there before, especially in Ahmedabad, which was very satisfying to see,” he said.
He further added, “There were challenges in shooting the film in Ahmedabad and Mumbai. It meant dealing with crowds and issues related to permissions. Finally, the team moved the production to Thailand.”
Production designer Philip Ivey said he had to quickly reassess the situation and found the perfect place in the Thailand capital to locate Dhaka. He sourced auto rickshaws, painted them with Bengali signs.
“We started with the production plan of shooting a good chunk in India and then going to Australia for the studio stuff but it kind of fell apart early on,” he said.
He spent a few days in Dhaka to soak up the city and then in Mumbai but realised it will be easier to navigate a smaller city in India and shifted to Ahmedabad, which was a bit more achievable and had a fantastic set of architecture and a lot of hidden gems.
“India hasn’t shot a lot of these big action films and that became a problem early on just because of the levels of bureaucracy there. Films like Lion have used India pretty well in terms of found footage, like show up with hidden camera but it was a bit different for us as we had a six foot four blonde guy with a machine gun. We needed that level of control, which they were not used to,” he said
In designing the sets in Bangkok, the idea was to create a sense of anarchy and organized chaos that a busy marketplace in Dhaka would resemble, Ivey said. He added that he’d rather seek crowded places like Dharavi in Mumbai or the biggest landfill in Mexico than working on a period drama.
“I like the cinema that you can see and smellIt is more interesting than middle class people sitting on the couch. Countries like India and Bangladesh allow you to play with really strong colours,” he said.
For cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, who has previously worked on Hollywood movies such as Drive and The Usual Suspects, it was fun to shoot in India.
“We started in India and it was my first shoot in India and you cannot go wrong. Anywhere you point the camera, the colours explode. The challenge was doing the place justice and get every bit out of it that you can get, the colours, look and architecture. You can almost smell the images,” he said.