The review of Tyler Rake 2, the second chapter of the franchise directed by Sam Hargrave dedicated to the dangerous extraction missions of the titular hero, decidedly more imposing and ambitious but paradoxically less effective.
He made his debut in 2020 – in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – the exciting Tyler Rake with Chris Hemsworth, title little promoted but produced by Russo brothers Of Avengers: Endgame which turned out to be one of the biggest hits of Netflix. Thanks to a direction that is attentive to the choreographic style and to the depth and truthfulness of the stunts in the field, possible only thanks to Sam Hargrave’s long experience as coordinator and stuntman.
Imitating what was done by colleagues Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, much more famous thanks to sagas like John Wick or titles of the scope of Deadpool 2 e Atomic Blonde (but also the last and unleashed Bullet Train), Hargrave was invited by Russo patrons to make his directorial debut on a project heavily focused on wide-ranging action, including CQC (Close Quarter Combat, melee with a knife), shootouts and chases. Thus he packaged a visually powerful and stratified genre film in the action sector, also staging an incredible 12-minute long shot that rightfully entered among the best and most compelling ever conceived. Winning team does not change, and three years after the first chapter now arrives in streaming the highly anticipated Tyler Rake 2decidedly more ambitious in terms of cinematic scope but also less successful in terms of aesthetic appeal and content, as we will see in this review.
For the family
The ending of the first Extraction (this is the original title of the work) played with doubts about the death of the protagonist, who obviously survived the assault on the Dhaka bridge and was also glimpsed in the closing scene of the film, set 8 months after the mission in Bangladesh. While not in any way a problematic issue, already in the incipit of Tyler Rake 2 a temporal discrepancy emerges that undermines the coherence of continuity, considering that after the accident he is escorted to the hospital in Dubai by his friend and colleague Nik (Golshifteh Farahani) and then retires to the Austrian mountains for filming. The narrative arc is 9 months, before the start of the new mission, which does not match Tyler’s presence in Mumbai to “watch over” little Ovi, who here is not only not shown but not even named, thus also opening to a narrative discrepancy relating to the emotional weight of the protagonist towards the boy. It is indicative of a deliberate detachment from the beginnings of the franchise to begin a fresh and different chapter, this time set in glacial Georgia, where Tyler is called to extract his ex-wife’s sister and her two children from a maximum security prison.
The three find themselves trapped there because of her husband, brother of the dangerous boss of the Nagazi, Zurab Radiani (Tornike Gogrichiani, villain that doesn’t work), at the head of this criminal organization dedicated to drug and arms trafficking and spread in a sprawling way in the country. Keeping alive the drama of the protagonist, torn by the senses of shocks for his impotence in the death of his son (which occurred due to illness), Tyler Rake moves on less exciting narrative tracks and with a strong b-movie aftertaste, which would also be positive if it was a film eager for a more spectacular and exciting elaboration of its contents – and with a higher budget – which however fails to go beyond the beauty of its new and absolutely brilliant integrated sequence shot.
Tyler Rake 2, Chris Hemsworth on the stunts: “They are the hardest I’ve ever had to face”
Only 22 minutes
As before, the fulcrum action of the project can be traced in the actual extraction by Tyler and his team, where Nik and his brother Yaz (Adam Bessa) also return, this time with more decisive and expanded roles. The entire construction of the escape from prison sequence is worth the vision alone and would perhaps have deserved the big screen, being able to see it on equal terms even with John Wick in terms of exaltation of the action in a scenic and choreographic key. It even appears clear how the entire sequel is substantially built on the foundations of this long and complex sequence shot of 22 minuteswhose only mistake is to arrive too early in the narrative economy of the film, annihilating any subsequent attempt to surprise the spectator, albeit with some muscular melees that exploit the surrounding environment in an amusing way (think of a fistfight in gymnasium in the second act).
The dramaturgical element is barely sketched and family relationships do not generate the empathy they would like, while from the point of view of combat rivalry, a character that is difficult to break down like the Saju Rav of the first film or a Gaspar ready to play a double game is missing . The feature film proceeds without surprise and indeed painfully wastes the potential of many sequences with a strong adrenaline impact, unable to ennoble them properly because they are too interested in those impressive 22 minutes. There is all the greatness of Hargrave as a genre filmmaker, able to move (sometimes using digital technology) with agility between very narrow corridors and crowded open spaces, between an embarrassing mass of enemies up to a wild and snowy race between motorcycles and SUVs, capping it all off with no-holds-barred survival aboard a moving train.
Thus Hemsworth’s hard training for the part is also revealed, once again credible and once again electrifying in the most agitated moments, especially in the close fights (where Nik and Yaz also shine) and in the technique, whose execution – both in the fluidity as in the impacts – it is what is best valued by the director, giving him more than plausible dynamics and physicality. The ambition of Tyler Rake 2, however, is all here, in about twenty minutes that alone want to give the measure of the cinematic desire of Hargrave and the Russos of this saga on extractions, to which we just have to do our most heartfelt good luck for the future, because if this is the backbone of the operation, apparently disinterested in the rest, in the next and possible chapters we will have to do better and better and more and more.
Tyler Rake 2 turns out to be a sequel where the cinematic ambition of the Russos and Hargrave engulfs everything else, starting with the narrative content. Concluding what was said in the review, the sequel with Chris Hemsworth is strong in a long, extremely complex, brilliant and spectacular action sequence, as well as cqc choreography or well-oiled and worked shootouts, but otherwise it lacks grip and empathy, of a tale that can be said to be compelling for the genre, of an adequate threat and a balance between the parts that is totally absent here. The second draw falls short of expectations despite having moments of great cinema worthy of the big screen.
Because we like it
- Chris Hemsworth is still convincing as the real action hero.
- The 22-minute long take is the best seen in action cinema this year.
- Sam Hargrave values the centrality of choreography like few others.
- Farahani’s Niki turns out to be an excellent co-star.
- Superficial and uninvolving writing.
- The take shot annihilates the rest of the film’s action.
- An anonymous villain with no bite.