Extraction ending explained: Director Sam Hargrave reveals if Chris Hemsworth lives or dies, says he compromised
Director Sam Hargrave has shed some light on the ending of his debut feature film, Extraction, admitting that the ending is ‘a compromise’. Released on Netflix, the action thriller features Chris Hemsworth as a haunted black market mercenary tasked with rescuing an Indian child. Spoilers for the film ahead.
From the onset, it is clear that Hemsworth’s character, Tyler Rake, is damaged. At around the half-way mark in the film, it is revealed that Tyler had a son, who died at the age of six. It is implied that Tyler takes on the rescue mission as a sort of death wish, and at the end of the film, sacrifices himself to save Ovi Mahajan, with whom he forms a strong bond through the story. He leaps off a bridge and is seen falling into a river, sinking to its depths. In doing so, Tyler somewhat redeems himself, and atones for the mistakes he’s made in his life. But the film’s very last shot seemingly implies that Tyler survived the fall.
Director Sam Hargrave spoke about the ending, and the elaborate process through which he locked onto it. “What would hopefully happen is people will be discussing that afterwards, and you get to say which one you feel is right for you,” he told Collider.
Hargrave said that in the original script, written by Joe Russo, it is made explicitly clear that Tyler does not survive. And this is the version that Hargrave said he prefers. But certain test audiences and Netflix felt otherwise.
“We had a version of the movie, and we tested it a lot, and it was not surprising that a lot of people wanted the character to live, and some people wanted him to die,” Hargrave said. He continued, “People were torn; it was almost down the middle. We want to appeal to as many people as possible without compromising the integrity of the story. And so, we think a pretty good compromise is to make an ambiguous ending. If people on one hand feel like the story is complete and is a story of redemption through sacrifice, then for them, it’ll be where the kid is imagining [Rake standing there], and then now you go, ‘Yes, I’m satisfied.’ If you feel like you love Tyler Rake, and you love Chris Hemsworth, and you want a sequel, and you’re like ‘There’s no way, you can’t kill him!’ then that’s Tyler Rake standing there looking at you. So we kind of purposefully did not pull focus to the character standing there.”
The filmmaker, who worked on several Marvel films as stunt coordinator, continued, “In truth, that was a thing of testing. Because we shot multiple endings. We shot a lot of different ways to pull this off. Because in the original script—and this was my idea—Rake does not live. His story was complete because he found something to keep him alive, and his journey was complete when he came to redemption through sacrifice. He made the choice he was okay with. He had come to terms with his past and the choice he made in the present saved this kid, and if that meant him dying, so be it. And that was his journey in my mind.”
Hargrave said that Netflix’s head of original films, Scott Stuber, favoured the ending in which Tyler escapes, leaving options open for a sequel. “A very astute thing was suggested by the head of Netflix original films, Scott Stuber. His point was well taken, fantastic, and I’ll remember this forever: you have to remember the difference between an intellectually satisfying ending and an emotionally satisfying ending. And so we struggled with that concept of ‘is it more emotionally satisfying that Rake lives or that Rake dies?’ And truthfully, the vote was it’s more emotionally satisfying that he lives. Because the kid gave him something to live for, and now he’s living for that.”
Hargrave concluded, “So basically, what you see in the movie is a compromise. Because a lot of us who are in the original camp didn’t want him to survive, a lot in the new camp wanted him to live. We tested it, and it was literally down the middle for people who wanted him to live versus die. So we’re like, hey, we’ll give you the best of both worlds, we’re gonna have this ambiguous ending where you can choose your own adventure.”
Extraction also stars Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Randeep Hooda, Priyanshu Painyulli, David Harbour, Golshifteh Farahani and Pankaj Tripathi.
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