Quick Reviews: 'Influencer', 'Extraction 2' | Horror Social Media Vacation, Chris Hemsworth
Are you following this trend of movies with a social media angle coming out steadily one after another? Here's another one for your dopamine fix of the day. Instead of watching Sandlers of the world go on vacation in Hawaii with their friends and haphazardly putting a movie together in the process, you can watch Influencer, a horror thriller directed, co-written (with Tesh Guttikonda) and co-edited (with Rob Grant) by Kurtis David Harder whose filmmaking interests seem to be more aligned with their tourist energy. We, the audience, follow Instagram influencer Madison (Emily Tennant) on her solo trip to Thailand after her boyfriend Ryan (Rory J. Saper) bailed. She ends up meeting CW (Cassandra Naud) who is seemingly more familiar with the country, two of them quickly becoming friends before vacation plans change in a horrific fashion.
Describing something as fun and entertaining can feel slightly concerning during summer months when it's hard to find films to be excited about but with Influencer, that's very much a compliment. Harder and Guttikonda's scripting is able to do a lot with what seems like little money and a small crew. While not exactly reinventing anything, the story manages to reimagine its premise and characters in a way that keeps locations—elegantly shot by cinematographer David Schuurman—and twisty thriller elements dynamic when necessary.
Most of those twists and turns are then carried on the back of Naud's performance especially, the actor often elevating the material which makes sure that viewer will follow her character even when the writing smartly doesn't explain all of CW's intentions and decisions. Only few times and mainly with the ending, Harder gets lost in that specific algorithm as the movie goes for the ''nice'' solution or resolution when the intensity of its characters and actors are basically begging for more. They already sold their souls for satisfaction or coconut water so you might as well let them pay for it.
Smileys: Story, Cassandra Naud
Frowneys: Minor issues with ending
Do you reckon that somebody needs to be.. extracted again? Well, you leave them be and call Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) for his extraordinary skillset that makes him the right man for the job. For reasons that you might want not to think about after the movie's half-hearted setup, Rake returns in Extraction 2, the sequel to 2020's action thriller 'Extraction', both adapted from Ande Parks' graphic novel 'Ciudad'. Directed by Sam Hargrave (who also plays the extremely vital role of ''Ditch Digger'' in the film), Rake is brought back to life before setting out on another mission where he must rescue his ex-wife's family members from Georgian gangster Zurab Radiani (Tornike Gogrichiani). Helping Rake with that mission are his partners Nik (Golshifteh Farahani) and Yaz (Adam Bessa).
There are a lot of names and places introduced that are not mentioned in that premise but you're most likely not here for amazing world-building or character relationships and that's perfectly okay. What Extraction 2 once again provides is intensely crafted action sequences, several of them actually, choreographed with real attention in terms of movement, purpose and speed as they take a viewer on a journey. They're often seamlessly combined with both special and visual effects, the highlight of course being a propulsive 20-minute digitally enhanced ''oner'' which uses natural elements, vehicles and hand-to-hand combat in a very entertaining manner.
Between those set pieces you sadly have to tolerate Joe Russo's screenwriting. The film's action sequences smartly use ''less-is-more'' attitude when it comes to the writer's robotic dialogue but that cleverness clearly didn't stick to the thriller side of things where Hemsworth and others are constantly regurgitating the few same underdeveloped emotions to each other. Two hours is definitely too much for writing like that but there are 80 minutes of solid material here where the writing and direction make entering and exiting scenes quite enjoyable.
Smileys: Stunt choreography, SFX