Is Netflix Getting Something Right a Sign of a New Time for Women In Movies?

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

Netflix is doing something very interesting that I think needs to be highlighted.

Like me, you’ve been watching the entertainment industry chug out one pile of crap after another and wondering when it will all turn around. Hollywood has left nothing alone in its quest to DEI everything into the dirt, including the movies and franchises you loved. Nothing has gone untouched. Not even He-Man or Lord of the Rings.

Every now and again, a solid film shows that somewhere, nestled deep in the industry’s briar, is a talented group of people who genuinely want to make something good. Top Gun: Maverick, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and John Wick 4 are films that could be considered roses among thorns.

Now, another has joined the ranks of these movies, and while it probably won’t equal the unbridled success of Maverick, its mere presence signifies something good.

Ladies and gentlemen, I can say that Netflix really got something right. Well…really, it got two things right.

For those who are still subscribed to the streaming service, you’ve likely seen the movie “Extraction 2” trending on its top-watched list. If you haven’t already, I suggest you watch it at your earliest convenience.

“Extraction 2” is the sequel to “Extraction,” a film starring Chris Hemsworth as a mercenary named Tyler Rake who’s paid top dollar to find, protect, and extract high-value targets from incredibly dangerous places. It’s a meat-and-potatoes action movie that has a surprising amount of heart and drama that retreats from the forefront the moment it threatens to overstay its welcome.

The action scenes are incredible. While it does use some CGI, the effects it relies on for its big sequences are, more often than not, practical. The fight choreography is often stellar to the point of being somewhat entrancing. You can tell Hemsworth and his fellow actors spent a long time perfecting these scenes and it shows. A huge nod has to be given to the camerawork as well, which moves in and out and revolves around the action in dynamic ways that make you feel like you’re on a ride.

I definitely suggest watching the first Extraction before you pick up the sequel, but even if you don’t, you’ll still enjoy this if you’re a fan of good, solid action films.

I’ve now seen the movie twice and I’m still willing to go back in a third.

While I was wowed by the action, I actually found myself surprised. I kept waiting for the movie to make some kind of statement, specifically through the character of “Nik,” Rake’s female partner and handler. As per the guidelines of modern cinema, Nik should be faster, more accurate, more intelligent, and superior to Rake in every regard. However, she’s not. Rake clearly outclasses her. He’s the central focus of the movie and the movie allows him to be.

That doesn’t mean Nik is useless in the least. She’s a smart, capable, and cunning warrior herself, but she never gets to the point where she’s the one-woman army which makes you wonder why any of the other characters are needed at this point. She’s well-balanced and a great compliment to Rake.

And herein lies my hope. They actually wrote a woman that I didn’t end up hating five minutes in. She’s a character that makes sense, does sensical things, reacts in realistic ways, and isn’t there to make a socio-political statement to the audience.

Netflix did something similar in “The Gray Man” with Ana de Armas’s “Dani,” who was also capable of being a great fighter but never went so far as to upstage Ryan Gosling’s “Six.” She wasn’t the unstoppable badass that modern cinema likes to portray women as. She lost fights. She made mistakes.

It’s not necessarily the men being portrayed in these movies that are giving me hope for the future of cinema, it’s the portrayal of women.

The feminist narrative is that men just want action movies where the damsel is in distress and always needs to be saved. That’s not true. In fact, I personally find the wimpy woman capable of doing nothing but screaming and being scared as the bad guys carry her around kind of annoying.

It’s perfectly fine to have women who are smart, resourceful, skillful, and even badass. The issue is that modern cinema has lost the ability to balance these women so that they don’t become boring caricatures of what feminists think women should look like. It’s okay if there’s a little bit of give here and there in terms of realism, but overdone tropes of a badass woman who can do no wrong and defeats everyone she comes up against were tired from the word “go.”

Extraction 2 would have fallen apart if Nik wasn’t a balanced character, but Netflix got it right again, at least in this regard.

Netflix is known for its stupid mistakes, but perhaps something is bubbling underneath the surface there.


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