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Extraction's Opening Scene Was Originally Much Different

Movie-making is a tricky art form. Not everything that's written makes it to shooting, not everything that's filmed makes it to the final cut, and not everything plays out in the way it's originally pictured. Netflix's action-thriller Extraction, directed by Marvel Cinematic Universe stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave in his feature directorial debut, is no exception to this process. The film's screenwriter, MCU luminary Joe Russo (of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame notoriety), revealed during a livestream event for Extraction that he wrote the opening scene much differently than what's shown on screen. 

Extraction opens with a scene in which Chris Hemsworth's character Tyler Rake, a former operator in the Australian Special Air Service Regiment who's now working as a black-market mercenary tasked with extracting a young kidnapping victim from his captors, is tangled in a gun fight with elite forces on a bridge. Rake zips between vehicles, sitting passenger-less and parked on the bridge, and fires his weapon with expert precision. Bloody and already wounded, Rake collapses to the ground after gunning down a few opponents. He crawls across the pavement, blood dripping from his face and mouth and weeping from his leg, before propping himself up on a stationary vehicle and reloading his weapon. Rake experiences an ambiguous vision — then Extraction fades into its title card, and the story cuts to two days prior.

This wasn't the opening to Extraction that Russo had written; it was originally much different. As Russo had penned it, Extraction was supposed to begin with the scene from which the film takes its name: the extraction sequence in which Rake rescues Ovi Mahajan Jr. (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), the son of notorious crime lord Ovi Mahajan Sr. (Pankaj Tripathi), from rival crime lord Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli).

"We restructured it in editorial. It was originally scripted to open on the extraction scene in the room where they're holding Ovi. And then it went backwards in time, and then it caught back up to that moment," Russo revealed.

Why the beginning of Extraction was changed

That would have kicked Extraction off with a jolt of adrenaline, and would have set the stage for what's to come. Many films have implemented this technique: opening in media res – into the middle of things — of the defining sequence of the movie, then shifting back to the beginning to slowly unravel how the characters and the narrative eventually find themselves in that previously teased situation. But for Extraction, going a different route was necessary to create a strong foundation for Hemsworth's Tyler Rake and to boost the overall stakes.

As Russo explained, "We thought it would be better to open on a seminal moment for Hemsworth['s character] — a psychological moment for him — and to add more tension about whether he's actually going to survive the movie or not."

Those who have streamed Extraction already know Rake's final fate. Those who haven't, well, you'd better get on it ASAP.