‘Extraction’ Director Explains How He Made *That* Electric 12-Minute Action Sequence

Netflix


I’ve been big-upping Extraction ever since it hit Netflix on Friday night. In fact, when I posted my review to our Instagram, one idiot thought it was a paid ad. It’s a dumb accusation for many reasons, the biggest of which being since when did being positive about something mean that it’s an advertisement? If I told you that Avengers: Endgame was a sweet movie, would you accuse me of cuttin’ the check from Disney? Outrageous.

Does my appreciation of Extraction have something to do with the fact that our current global situation means we won’t be getting any major movie releases this summer? Perhaps. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that there were moments of a legitimately audible thrill as I watched, which are what I look for in movies: the ability to make me react. And there were a handful of moments, particularly during the film’s balls-to-the-wall second act, that made me leap out of my seat and yelp from surprise.

If you’ve seen the movie, then you know exactly what part I’m talking about, as there’s a massive “one-take” car chase/fight scene in the middle of the movie that represents the film’s strongest moment.

In a recent interview with IndieWire, the stuntman turned promising first-time director went into lengthy detail about how that film-defining sequence came to be:

“In a day, it would be between three and six different long sequences, and they could be anywhere from four to five minutes that we need, 30 seconds, or whatever those pieces are that fit together,” he said. “You’d have to do it until you got it right. You could do the whole thing, and you get three minutes and 59 seconds in, but if you know you’ve got a trip and stumble or one of the background looks at the camera, you’ve got to go do all of it over again, because there’s no safety net.“

One other plus to such action-heavy repetition: onscreen veracity that’s hard for even the most talented actors to fake.

“I think that our top was 21 times, twenty-two times,” Hargrave said when asked how many times they’d shoot each scene. “Because we’re not cutting to a bunch of different angles, you couldn’t just be like, ‘Take a rest, Chris, we’re gonna do an over-the-shoulder shot. No, Chris, you’re in it.’ It would have to be the actors doing the whole thing.’ They’ve been going most of the day, and those looks of exhaustion and the deep breaths, those are real, it’s hard to fake that stuff. They’re all great actors, but there’s a certain quality, a certain visceral, tangible feeling to the performance that you can only get by being in the real space and pushing actors as hard as we did.” [via IndieWire]

RELATED: Let’s Talk About The Ending Of ‘Extraction’

You can read Hargrave’s full interview about the epic mid-movie action sequence — where he covers “cooking up” the idea, planning, location scouting, rehearsal, and how many cuts there actually are —  over at IndieWire.

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Eric is a New York City-based writer who still isn’t quite sure how he’s allowed to have this much fun for a living and will tell anyone who listens that Gotham City is canonically in New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter @eric_ital for movie and soccer takes or contact him eric@brobible.com