Even before Chris Hemsworth’s new movie “Extraction” made it to Netflix on April 24, 2020, it was on its way to becoming the streaming service’s biggest debut; there had been quite the buzz around this movie.
After all, it is one of the first Hollywood movies to take place in Bangladesh, which attracted Bangladeshi audiences. Soon after it had been watched by millions, however, a heavy amount of criticism flooded in. Some labeled this movie as a “white savior” film while others consider it a well-written and realistic movie.
“Extraction” is a well-made, quality movie for multiple reasons. First of all, it brings attention to many issues of the crime, corruption, and drug problems that exist in Southeast Asia and is interlaced with the government and police. It also emphasizes how many children are forced to be part of gangs along with the dangerous paths that it may lead to. It was one of the few times Hollywood brought attention to these hidden issues in Southeast Asia.
A journalist, who chose to remain anonymous in an Economist article, revealed that the corrupt political connection between the government and gang was “too right.”
Many Bangladeshis were furious about their people not being represented “aesthetically” enough because the film only showcased the slums.
However, Hollywood doesn’t owe the country a tourism promotion when they are trying to make a movie about a drug lord. A film is meant to showcase a story, not promote a country. Besides, the drug and crime problems heavily exist in the slums of Bangladesh.
Despite this, the movie had a severe issue that led many people to label it a “white savior” movie: glorifying the white protagonist as the only “liberator.”
Throughout the movie, Tyler Rake, a white man who is on a mission to retrieve a kidnapped teenager, Ovi, is showcased as the only character with “good” intentions. An employee of Ovi’s father, Saju Rav, who was initially misled into battling Tyler for Ovi, is portrayed as the only non-white protagonist.
Even so, Sanju is one of the antagonists at the beginning of the movie. The main character is suggested as though, without him, there stood no chance of the boy’s survival. Only Tyler was seen as the savior of this boy while everyone else was antagonized as “foreign corrupts.”
Other small criticisms include that the Bengali women seemed to tie their sarees in Indian style, and the Bengali spoken didn’t sound like the local dialect at all. Even the music that was being played in the streets was outdated Bollywood music, which angered many because the identity of Bangladeshis and Indians were being mixed. Not only was that problematic, but for a movie that almost entirely takes place in Bangladesh, there wasn’t a single Bangladeshi cast member.
The makers of the movie seem to rarely consider what Bangladeshi culture is actually like, and the only way the only distinguishing feature between India and Bangladesh in the movie was a yellow filter. This was deemed quite insulting for some as it almost felt like the movie labeled Bangladesh as a “dirtier version” of India.
Hollywood may not have the obligation to promote a country in any way. However, they should make the movie without being ignorant of the culture and language they are portraying.
If filmmakers want to make a movie focusing solely on the dark side of a country, they should at least do it right.
As Netflix’s “Extraction” becomes one of the most popular movies of 2020 so far. Now whether the movie is good or not is up to the viewers’ interpretation, but there’s no doubt that there are problems related to the making of this movie.
Movie Review: Extraction