“We wanted to make everything uber realistic.” Extraction 2 producer Patrick Newall on making the epic new action film from Netflix and AGBO.

Shortly after Extraction was released in March 2020, producer Patrick Newall knew that he and the filmmaking team, including director Sam Hargrave, AGBO’s Anthony and Joe Russo, with Joe Russo also writing, and producer/star Chris Hemsworth were faced with a new, seemingly insurmountable task. “Now,” Newall recalls thinking, “we have to figure out how Tyler can survive.” After Extraction became Netflix’s most watched film in 2020 — with more than 99 million viewers in its first four weeks, the team began to hatch a sequel.

In the first film, Hemsworth’s troubled but fearless black-market mercenary Tyler Rake had succeeded through extreme perils, completing his “extraction” assignment to rescue a kidnap victim while fending off ruthless drug lords, corrupt police forces, and military-trained hit-men. Then, in the final moments, he seems to succumb to his wounds, tumbling off a bridge and plunging into the river below.

And so begins Extraction 2. Rake fights his way back to health only to be tasked with another deadly mission: Rescuing the battered family of a Georgian gangster from prison, where they are being forcefully held. In addition to Hemsworth reprising his role as Rake, Golshifteh Farahani returns as Nik Kahn, and Adam Bessa is back as her brother, Yaz.

Nik Khan and Tyler Rake

Also returning: The same intense, practical action and epic one-shot that propels the film with a heart-pounding pace that seems to literally put the viewer in the middle of the action.  “It’s really Sam's and Joe’s vision to create a first-person experience,” explains Newall. “The viewer feels in the moment, and has almost a visceral response to the action.”

AGBO’s correspondent Angela Matusik chatted with Newall shortly after the completion of Extraction 2. In the interview, he details the training, planning, and acrobatic camera skills that went into the making of the film.


Chris Hemsworth and Patrick Newall share a moment on the set of Extraction 2

Angela Matusik: Fans around the world have such high expectations for Extraction 2 – that it will be bigger, louder, and even more intense than the first one. What kind of expectations do you and the other filmmakers put on yourselves?

Patrick Newall: As a producer, you’re working to the director’s vision. And Sam [Hargrave]’s vision was like, well, now we have to make it double the action. We knew we had to do that. That’s why we landed a helicopter on the train in the mountains when it was snowing. That’s why we did the actual fights on that train and all the live-action car work. We really did light Chris on fire in one scene. We knew we had to make the oner or first person POV longer than it was in the first 14-minute one because that was one of the expectations Sam put on himself. Then, we put it on ourselves.

AM: The film is shot primarily on location in Eastern Europe. How do you even begin to pull together the team and tools you need for a monumental production like this?

PN: We assembled the best and most competent people from all over the world. We pulled together stunt teams, an Aerial team, Bulgarian fighters, Chinese fighters, Australian drivers, U.S. rally car drivers, European drivers. We had Delta Force guys, all kinds of pararescue teams, plus special force guys who came in and focused on the action. We wanted to make everything uber realistic, so we rely heavily on military advisors. And a lot of rehearsals to get it right.

Tyler Rake played by Chris Hemsworth

AM: Chris Hemsworth has said that the stunt training on this film was much more extensive than anything he’s done before. What is pre-production like for the performers?

PN: They were all working out and choreographing weeks in advance with trainers and tactical people who taught them how to work with knives and guns. It’s the quest for authenticity that turns these actors into a physical manifestation of these skills in a short period of time. If you look at the first movie, even for background players we brought in military advisers to make it feel like a real paramilitary group. It heightens the stakes for the fans because they can feel this authentic and real. And also, there is a small group of experts that evaluate the work and give it the stamp of approval. That goes a long way in this world, you know.

AM: Let’s talk about the one-shot. The first film takes you through all these tiny, crowded streets in India. The new oner in Extraction 2 clocks in at 21 minutes. How was that accomplished?

PN: [Director] Sam Hargrave operates the camera himself for the oner. There is not another director living that can do that. He is physically strapped to the front of a Polaris vehicle. He is one of the best stuntmen in the business. He literally puts himself and the camera in the middle of that action. We use digital enhancements and changeovers every once in a while, but it’s about 93% real, and 7% digital. There’s a lot of other action movies right now that are 70% digital backgrounds with stunts and harnesses. People responded to that narrative in the first film, and we really wanted to hold onto it in the second.

AM: It reminds me of watching Asian action films from the masters for the first time, like John Woo or Takashi Miike. When you think, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” That’s  the surprise and delight you get from having the director in the car filming.

PN:  He didn’t get in the car. He’s strapped to the front of it. Think about a Polaris chase vehicle that goes 60 to 70 miles now and he’s in a full fire suit and a helmet. He's strapped to the front of a cage outside, holding the handheld or the camera on what we called a magic scepter, which is like a pole. [Greg] Baldi the DP and Sam had created this device where Sam could hand off the camera to another stunt person who would take the camera in the middle of the sequence, and they were the only ones who could do that safely.

AM: Thinking of the authenticity from another angle, the Extraction universe feels global because it not only shot on real locations but the actors are actually from those places. It’s an important distinction a lot of AGBO productions make – like the recent Citadel series for Amazon Prime. These stories transcend borders.

PN: You’re absolutely right. In the first movie we hired almost all South Asian, Indian, and Bangladeshi cast. In Extraction 2, casting director Sarah Finn had gone and found a theater company and a casting director in Georgia to find actors from that part of the world. And, of course, some original actors return. That’s the brilliance of the storytelling – we don’t have people learning these dialects. Even with Chris, he is playing an Australian so he can feel completely natural in his language.

AM: We learn a lot more about Tyler Rake and his background. How did that character develop over the two films?

PN: You understand why he’s troubled because he couldn’t control what happened to his family. He couldn’t save his son, so he couldn’t be in the room and he has lived to regret that decision every moment since. So he puts himself out there to redeem himself. Joe, Sam, [producer] Angela [Russo], they’re all super talented people and understand this arch. And Chris himself developed the story a lot. He had an enormous amount of input. He’s a producer on the movie and not just in name only. He very much was involved in every aspect of it.

Nik Khan played by Golshifteh Farahani

AM: Speaking of character development, this film shows a tenderness between Tyler and Nik. I think that after seeing this film, a lot of people are going to want to see these two get together, don’t you think?

PN: In the first movie there was a scene in the cabin where she comes in to say I’ve got this mission for you. We shot multiple versions and one had a lot of sexual tension to it. But when we got into editing it really didn’t feel right. It felt like they should be more like best friends, or like brother and sister. We decided to expand her character in the second film. Her fights tested well, but so we added more back story.

AM: Nik’s fight scenes in the new film are some of the most intense.

PN:  You don’t see many female characters tackling this kind of action. Maybe Charlize Theron in some of her characters. But Gal [Farahani] totally went for it. She came in. She trained really hard. She was working in the gym in the morning, noon and night. She was out shooting real guns. She’s such an exceptional actor, and on top of that brings an inherent humanity as a person. She’s a very passionate individual and super smart woman.

AM: Final question: You yourself have bit parts in both films. How does stepping in front of the camera and being in a scene makes you a better producer?

PN: I’ve played little bit parts in a lot of my movies and the thing you learn from being in front of the camera standing there is what’s happening behind the camera, on the whole of the room like you. You go through hair and makeup in wardrobe. Everybody knows you’re the producer, so you know you’re probably well-treated. But I started out my career wanting to be an actor, and then I discovered filmmaking. And I’ll never play a part that I think someone else could play better. But now I’m a filmmaker first. As a producer, stepping in front of the camera helps you learn and understand and empathize with what the other people do. It makes you much better at your job.

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