Extraction 2 director on the Netflix sequel's 21-minute action scene: "We lit Chris Hemsworth on fire"

Extraction 2
(Image credit: Netflix)

Tyler Rake is back from the dead. Chris Hemsworth's hard-hitting action hero returns for a Netflix sequel that aims to best a movie that's still sitting pretty in Netflix's top-10 most-viewed movies list. Before Extraction 2 dived headfirst into the action, however, director Sam Hargrave wanted to make sure it had more heart than its predecessor.

"What we wanted to do with this movie, because we got the opportunity to tell a second Tyler Rake story, was to dive deeper into the emotional core of the character and see what it is that makes him tick and what it is that's driving him," Hargrave tells GamesRadar+.

"A lot of what went into building this character for the first movie didn't make it on-screen. So it was really exciting to show audiences those things that we had used as a preparation for Chris to get into that character… it was a real opportunity to expand on the emotional core that the first movie kind of hinted at."

While Rake's near-death experience may make him a more sombre, reflective figure, it does little to blunt the in-your-face action that punctuated the original.

Extraction, perhaps unfairly, has always been reduced to eye-popping numbers. One of the first true streaming hits in the COVID era, the first movie was watched for a whopping 231 million hours in its first 28 days. Its most memorable sequence, a 12-minute 'oner' – in layman's terms, a sequence designed to look like it was shot in a single take – inevitably drew the bulk of the attention.

So how do you top that? As Hargrave explains, the genesis of a sequel revolved around going for a bigger, better action scene – a 21-minute oner that sees Hemsworth's Rake crash across several set-pieces in prisons, forests, and vehicles to form a breathless extraction sequence without a (noticeable) cut.

"Ironically, the first I heard of [Extraction 2] was that idea," Hargrave says. "[Writer] Joe [Russo] pitched it before there was a story arc. He’s like, 'I think it would be awesome to open up with this huge oner with Tyler Rake escaping from a prison' and I was like, 'Sold… what else we got?'"

Lights, camera, (lots of) action

Extraction 2

(Image credit: Netflix)

Again, we're back to numbers. The sheer figures alone are staggering: 400 action performers, 75 stunt crew, 29 days of filming – and a real helicopter perched on a moving train.

"The technical challenges of pulling something like that off were astronomical," Hargrave explains. "But we hired the best people and gave ourselves time to prep and rehearse."

As the director is keen to point out, everything feeling – and looking – like the real deal is at the heart of the burgeoning action franchise.

"Part of the DNA of this franchise is real people doing real action on real locations," Hargrave says. "Stylistically, audiences can tell the difference when you're in front of a blue screen versus being out there for real."

Hargrave adds: "We would try and do as much as we could do practically – if it was viable, safe, and [in budget]. 

"Part of the point of this 21-minute sequence and this style of action filmmaking is to be an immersive experience for the audience. You can't necessarily be out there with us on the set or be in a real extraction, but this would be about as close as we can get you."

"We lit him on fire"

Extraction 2

(Image credit: Netflix)

It's little wonder then, given how exhausting it is just watching Extraction 2's lengthy prison break, that Hemsworth called it the "hardest thing he's ever done" in an interview with Total Film.

"Oh, we pushed him right to the limit," Hargrave says. "The crazy thing is here’s right there with you and never backs away from a challenge. We put him on top of a speeding train in sub-zero temperatures with a helicopter 20 feet away from his face and he didn’t bat an eyelid."

Hargrave continues, "We lit him on fire. That wasn't computer-generated fire. It was talked about – it might be safer with CG fire. But it just doesn't look the same, it doesn't have the same feel. So he was like, 'Yeah, light me up.' I think it was seven or eight times we lit Chris Hemsworth on fire and he punched his way through a bunch of villains. It was amazing, visually, to watch."

Attention, understandably, turns towards Extraction 3. With the series' none-too-gradual escalation in its oners, it only stands to reason that any potential threequel would go all-out to top what's come before.

"I think we ought to wait and see how people respond to this movie," Hargrave cautions. "Should there be a third movie, I'm not sure how you top it. But we said that after the first movie. Chris has said before that he's not doing a oner after the first movie, we did one that's twice as long, and now he says no more oners [again]." 

The director, though, is thinking big – but understands that the oners can't become a cheap marketing tool to lean on.

"Who knows? Maybe the third one is a oner from start to finish, I don't know," Hargrave remarks. "It can't be a gimmick, right? It has to serve the story and be authentic and organic to the process so it feels natural. I don't ever want to force anything on an audience. Once the story develops – should there be a third movie – we'll see what feels right to that chapter of this journey."

Extraction 2 launches globally on Netflix on June 16. For more, check out our guide to the best Netflix movies.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.