Film / Reviews

'Extraction': Mourning the career of Bruce Willis

by Kaori Shoji

Will Bruce Willis ever make it back to the fold of respected Hollywood action stars? Judging from his antics in his latest outing, “Extraction,” the short answer to that is a huge “No.” The long answer involves a private eulogy to an illustrious action career, and a tearful ode to all that was wonderful in Willis’ signature “Die Hard” franchise. But it’s still no.

“Extraction” follows a formula that has been adopted by a number of recent releases — enough to make you think this could form a trend. It’s always the same: Aging veteran star is paired with a smooth, handsome, muscle-bound rookie, in the hopes that both incredible father-son chemistry and stunning action collaboration will ensue. It happened with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jai Courtney in “Terminator Gensys”; it happened in “Creed” with Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan. Now, it’s Bruce Willis and Kellan Lutz’s turn in “Extraction.”

Actually, “Extraction” is the second time Willis has shared screen time with a son-figure at his side. “A Good Day to Die Hard” in 2013 teamed him with Courtney as his CIA agent son — and that spawned a dismal disaster of a movie. Director Steven C. Miller (“Silent Night”), however, was apparently unfazed by that wreckage and its bad press, because “Extraction” is practically a duplicate, albeit with tweaks in the plot and the presence of Gina Carano as the son’s love interest.

Extraction
Rating
Run Time 83 mins
Language English

This film pretty much functions like a lazy-boy chair for Bruce Willis, who must need to relax and recover from nearly a decade of soulless, underwhelming performances. Meanwhile, it is also a pretty poor vehicle for Lutz as an action hero.

But there Willis is, the questionable centerpiece of “Extraction” — a title that, by the way, unfortunately brings up thoughts of wisdom teeth and pore cleansing. Willis stars as Leonard Turner, a CIA agent under orders to pick up a piece of high-tech hardware called Condor. Once he gets Condor, however, Turner is abducted by terrorists with European accents and forced to appear in a hostage video. The gist of it: The terrorists want to obliterate the free world with about a million missiles and they need Turner and Condor to launch them.

Back at CIA headquarters, top brass (typically) want to take out the terrorists and let Turner become collateral damage. But Turner’s son Harry (Kellan Lutz) happens to be working at the same organization, based in Prague (Isn’t it always Prague?). Predictably, Harry goes rogue to save him. Aiding him on this self-appointed mission is ex-lover Victoria (Carano), also a CIA agent (they like to keep things in the family), who has her own set of killer moves — and sexy lingerie. Victoria is meant to apprehend Harry and send him back to Prague, but of course he convinces her otherwise. Together they yank Leonard from the terrorists’ clutches and the trio proceed to save the world.

Given Carano’s training in muay thai and mixed martial arts, she is sadly under-deployed here. In fact, I would go as far to say that it’s a crime to relegate her to the role of a helpmate, even if she gets to exhibit great fighting skills, rather than let her go full-throttle all on her own. The utter lack of romantic chemistry between Carano and Lutz also does the film no favors — they would have been more credible as colleagues.

As for all the emphasis on bonding and family, “Extraction” is strangely emotionless. Dad seems unmoved when Harry comes running to save his hide and unimpressed with Victoria as a potential daughter-in-law. As with most other films he’s been in lately, Willis lurches through “Extraction” as if he’s sedated on painkillers and just can’t understand what all the fuss is about

In terms of entertainment value, the movie a few notches above sitting in a dentist’s chair. But only a few notches.