Sam Hargrave On ‘Extraction 2’ And The Return Of Our Extracting Pal Tyler Rake

This first Extraction movie had a, let’s say, unique release. Released in April of 2020, a time people were at home, starved for any new entertainment, here comes Tyler Rake. Yeah, a lot of people saw Extraction. This was Sam Hargrave’s first film as director and he was, of course, expecting the whole worldwide press tour for the big new Netflix movie, produced by the directors of Avengers: Endgame, starring Thor himself. Instead, he did some interviews from his shed on Zoom. Months prior, Hargrave was hoping his new action movie could stack up against the other new competition. Instead, people got to choose between Extraction or watching nothing. Turns out a lot of people chose Extraction.

Now, with Extraction 2, Sam Hargrave represents something interesting happening with action movies these days. Now, no, it’s not completely new that stunt people or stunt coordinators become directors – Hal Needham is an example; also, if you have never seen Hooper, it’s great – but there is a trend lately with David Leitch, Chad Stahelski, and now Hargrave (who worked for Leitch on Atomic Blond and Deadpool 2) all being stunt coordinators, then deciding, you know, I think I can just run this whole show. (I will not mention any specifics, but I’ve heard more than a few times, on action-heavy films, stunt coordinators feeling like they are directing most the movie anyway. So it makes sense to move on to getting paid for doing the whole thing.)

When we last saw Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth), it appeared he had met his match, shot and falling off a bridge presumably to his death. But, as Hargrave says, originally, yes, the first movie was supposed to be a self-contained story, but they went ahead and later added the final scene that throws some doubt on Rake’s death. Well, there is no more doubt. Tyler Rake has recovered and is enjoying his retirement, but is now offered a job that is too personal to turn down. His ex-wife’s sister and two kids are being held hostage in a Georgian prison where her husband, a notorious mob leader, is incarcerated. They need to be extracted and if you need an extraction, there is no better extractor than Tyler Rake. Ahead, Hargrave takes us through the return of Tyler Rake and why he made the jump from stunt coordinator to director and the challenges that come with that. And he dives into the 21-minute continuous action shot that is already being both hyped and scrutinized.

Tyler Rake is just one of my absolute favorite character names.

Good. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s pretty catchy.

The first movie came out at a very tumultuous time in our world history.

Yeah. I mean, for example, well, this time around I’m able to go on our world press tour and experience the fun of that. Where the first time I spent two solid days in my shed in Malibu, just answering questions on the computer for 12 hours a day. So, I think, yes, it’s a little more enjoyable to get out amongst the world and travel again and share the excitement for this film with fans around the world.

I do have fond feelings for the first one. At the time it was pretty exciting to see a new movie.

Well, I’m glad that we could do that. I mean there always will be, I guess, a special place for the first film because of the time at which it was released. Because a lot of people were prisoners in their own homes, so to speak. And they had no form of entertainment outside of these streaming services. And to have something come out that was entertaining and, for some people, fun to watch multiple times, I guess, was a godsend, so to speak.

Which means a lot of people saw that first movie. So I do think a lot of people are really looking forward to the sequel.

Hey, it’s a good way to see success. Right? [Laughs] Just have no competition. No, I’m kidding. But the second movie, yes, I can feel the response to the trailer that we put out a couple of weeks ago. Last week has been overwhelmingly positive, so from that reaction, yeah, I’m feeling the love. And I feel like fans are waiting for this movie. Hey, if the same amount of people, or more, that watch the first one enjoy this one, we’ll be doing good and I’ll be happy.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Tyler Rake is alive. At the end of the first one, we think he might have met his end. Was it always a plan to do a second one and bring him back?

Well, you never know when you make a movie and it’s an original idea, especially how it’s going to be received. So we were hopeful, yes, but it was planned as a single installment. There was never, going into the first one, a plan for a second one. Once we got a little bit deeper in and started to get positive feedback and see the potential for this character, when we went back to pick up some additional things for story and character development. We actually did an additional ending which ended up in the movie as a way to hedge our bet, so to speak.

Oh, the scene where we see Tyler Rake out of focus?

Yeah. Where the kid comes up out of the water and you see a figure in the background that resembles Tyler Rake, but out of focus. So the reason we landed on that idea was so that if, for some reason, the movie flopped and nobody wanted to see it beyond the first movie, then we had a satisfying ending for Rake’s journey. And if those same fans enjoyed it enough to clamor for a second one, you could then argue, “Oh, that was Tyler Rake.” And it made for really interesting parking lot conversations.

It’s interesting to hear you even say “if it flops.” Because I know when you were filming it, you didn’t realize the circumstances it was going to come out under. But it would be something if Netflix was like, “Hey, people chose nothing over Extraction.”

[Laughs] That would be a strong statement, and I probably would have to reconsider my choice of career if that was the case. Fortunately, I’m able to make a second movie, which I’m eternally grateful for Netflix and AGBO. So it wasn’t the case, thankfully.

Was there ever a thought of making that Tyler Rake’s thing? At the end of every movie he’s just presumed dead?

Not necessarily, but that’s a really actually a funny idea. You just keep always yanking the chain of the audience. They’re like, “Oh, he is dead this time.” No, he is not. No. I think we, myself included, and Chris, we all believe strongly enough in this character of Tyler Rake that we were able to make a strong statement at the end that he is very much alive and very much ready for another adventure should the audiences desire such a thing.

It does seem like, lately, a lot of stunt coordinators are becoming directors. Obviously, we can go back to someone like Hal Needham, it’s not like this is brand new. But the way movies are done now, with stunt coordinators directing large portions of big superhero movies now that they’d just move on to directing the whole thing.

I don’t think it’s as simple as saying, because we were in the stunt world, thusly, we make good directors. I think it goes a little deeper than that. I think the way that like Chad and Dave and myself approached the filmmaking process was part of it – as filmmakers rather than just action designers was a large part of it. We always kind of wanted to be filmmakers, wanted to tell stories, so when collecting your experience on the set as a stunt coordinator and fight coordinator and second unit director, it’s with the eye towards telling your own stories.

And the plus side, I mean, one of the many plus sides, is you get on-the-job experience. There are not a lot of film schools that you can go to that you can collect 10,000 hours of on-the-job experience where you’re managing budgets, you’re managing a team, you’re part of a larger production where there’s a lot of responsibility on you. You’re communicating with actors every day, you’re getting to shoot action. So, there’s a large correlation between that approach to getting into the stunt world with the on-the-job experience of directing and communicating that you get while doing the job of stunt coordinator, if that makes sense.

You compared it to a film school. When someone like David Leitch is the director, is he teaching you about other aspects of directing?

I mean, very much so in an informal way. I mean, he’s not saying, “Here, I’ll teach you all you need to know to become a great director.”

“Be my competition someday.”

But they’re giving you opportunities to create, and a lot of the on the job experience of directing came through choreographing and shooting and editing – where you would take an action sequence, if it’s written in the script, and because they’re directing and they’re too busy, they got a bunch of stuff to do, they would hand it off to whoever’s under them. Which I got to be, graciously, for a number of movies.

I’ve just heard too many stories through the grapevine. I’m sure you’ve heard this too, or maybe experienced it, and that’s what I guess my point was earlier: why so many people who do what you do are becoming directors now, and good directors, obviously, is because I’ve heard stories of people in your position feeling like, “Hey, I’m actually the one directing most of this movie.”

Oh, yeah. No, it happens. Sometimes what’s interesting is, as a director, if you’re signing on to direct an action movie, half of the description of the genre that you’re making, “action movie,” is action. So, if you don’t pay as close attention to the action side of what you’re shooting and directing as you do the acting and the drama, you’re going to have half a successful movie, I think. Or you turn it over, you’re giving up control to other people who know it better than you. I think, for me, at least, I felt very confident with action. But when I did the first film, what I tried to focus on and turn my attention to, was becoming much better at the dramatic side and the storytelling side because that was something I felt like I just didn’t quite have as much experience with.

A lot is being made about the continuous shot. It’s a pretty neat scene, but it’s being used in the marketing and now people will scrutinize it…

I mean, when it comes to marketing, Netflix has their algorithms and they’re experts that know what’s going to draw the eyes. And I think, because of the success of the first film and the buzz around that one shot that we did, or the “oner,” we call them, it was a logical place to push the envelope. We knew going into this that it was going to be a lot of scrutiny because of the first movie. And if you did one, you know people are going to look at it and judge it against the first, so we were aware that it was going to be scrutinized. And it will be, and people are going to find fault in it, as they can in any piece of art. It’s far from perfect, let me tell you. I’ll be the first one to admit it. But we swung for the fences.

It’s a pretty good one.

Which, hey, we fully committed. And we can’t find, or at least I can’t hang my head in shame of, “Oh, well, we didn’t try our best.” Because we did. Every single person involved in that sequence gave everything they had, and I think it shows on the screen. And I’m proud of what everybody did.

Obviously, it’s not one continuous filmed shot and movie magic is involved. Though, the beginning of that sequence does look pretty continuous. What’s the longest actual shot in the sequence?

Well, I mean a lot of that are trade secrets. Got to keep you guessing! But I can tell you, methodologically speaking, what we tried to do is create a style. And we did it with the first one, the experiential camera moving – camera operating to where stitches and cuts were kind of part of the nature and the style of the camera movement. So when something happens, you, as the audience, are experiencing it as if you were in the sequence with our hero. So, if something happens or we hear someone yell to the right the camera looks to the right as you would reacting. Or if somebody falls and they start to leave your frame, you tilt down because that’s where the action goes. So you’re following things as if you were experiencing them. And because of that, it allows us to seamlessly hide a lot of different cuts in there for different reasons, both creatively and logistically. But it maintains the experience of a continuous shot, a continuous moment or sequence. I don’t know exactly the length. I think the longest one was upwards of three minutes plus.

With that much going on, that’s pretty long.

Yeah. It’s not bad. I mean, because of course when you first started out, the desire is to do it all.

At the end of the movie, it hints at the worst of the worst of villains might be coming up in the next one. Do you have someone in mind already or have you talked to someone? I was almost expecting a post-credit scene with a reveal.

Well, I think that I can say that the reason there’s no post-credit scenes is because we haven’t yet landed on who that is. There are a lot of ideas floating around between Netflix and AGBO, and whoever that is will be a gnarly emmer effer.

So the answer is yes, you do have someone in mind.

We do have someone in mind in mind, yes.

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.