Ending Explained is a recurring series in which we explore the finales, secrets, and themes of interesting movies and shows, both new and old. In this entry, we explore the ending of Extraction.
The Netflix Original movie Extraction follows Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth), a mercenary-for-hire who must fight his way through Dhaka, Bangladesh, to rescue a drug kingpin’s teenage son from the clutches of a rival crime lord who’s even more vicious. Naturally, things get bloody.
Rake sees the mission as a chance at redemption following the death of his own son, which leads to him sacrificing himself during a firefight to save young Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal). Rake dies. Or does he?
In the final scene, the boy emerges from a swimming pool to find a blurry figure — who could be Rake — watching over him. What’s going on here?
There are a couple of ways to read this ending. The most obvious one is that Rake somehow survived because he’s a badass warrior. Faking his own death makes sense as he pissed off the entire Dhaka underworld. It also represents a rebirth of sorts, as Ovi gave him a reason to live again. He finally forgives himself for the death of his own son and is ready to move on.
On the other hand, Drake could be dead, and the final image can be interpreted as Ovi having a vision. Rake saved his life, and during those moments in the pool, he’s reminded of the man who fell into the water before his eyes.
Both conclusions are valid. According to director Sam Hargrave, the ending is intentionally ambiguous because both of those takeaways make sense. In the original version, Rake died. But the feedback from test audiences was so split that they decided to go with an ending that will hopefully satisfy all viewers.
“If you watched the movie and your experience was that you love Tyler Rake, he’s a great character and you want to see more of him — and you think he deserves to live — then hopefully you project onto that final image that it’s Tyler Rake and he’s alive. If you watch the movie and you think, ‘You know what? I love Tyler, but I think his story is complete with him giving his life for this kid,’ then you might be able to project onto that final image that it’s not Tyler Rake. The beauty of that ambiguous ending is both are right and hopefully both camps enjoy it.”
I’m leaning toward Rake surviving for a couple of reasons. First of all, the film’s mammoth success has resulted in Netflix greenlighting either a sequel or a prequel. At the time of this writing, writer/producer Joe Russo is considering both options, and he wants Hemsworth to reprise the role. If anything, the ending has at least given the filmmakers a get-out clause should they choose to resurrect the heroic mercenary.
That said, let’s pretend that this was a one and done movie. It’s also possible that Rake has chosen to keep protecting Ovi. Being the son of a crime lord, the child’s life is always going to be at risk, so perhaps the mercenary has discovered a newfound sense of purpose by looking out for him.
It’s not an implausible theory, either. Well, not unless you acknowledge all of the bullets that were pumped into Rake’s chest before he fell. Those should kill anyone, but in the realm of action cinema, it’s common for heroes to survive bullet wounds. Still, it’s the water element surrounding Rake’s “death” that he survived the ordeal.
At the start of the movie, Rake dives into a gorge and holds his breath underwater for several minutes. It’s established from the outset that he’s impervious to drowning, so he probably just swam to safety after his fall. Rake’s redemption arc is too powerful to just dispose of him, especially when there’s a potential franchise to be built around him.
Of course, there’s a counter-argument: Ovi is having visions brought on by grief. Throughout the film, Rake is hampered by the memories of his dead child, so maybe the ending was insinuating that Ovi has inherited a similar kind of trauma. Maybe he feels guilty for Rake’s death since the mercenary gave up his life for him.
Extraction does a great job of making both of these theories seem believable, and that’s the point. Until the franchise progresses and fills in the blanks, this ending is open to interpretation and up for debate.