As you probably know, there’s a lot to unpack on a massive action movie like Extraction 2. Chris Hemsworth’s raw performance, the freezing cold locations that make you chill to the bone just by watching and the ambitious 21-minute one-take sequence are just some of its impressive elements. In an exclusive interview with Collider, director Sam Hargrave talked about one aspect that may confuse people: the insanely cool special and practical visual effects.
During the interview, Hargrave told Collider’s Steve Weintraub that after you press play on Extraction 2, a lot of what you see on the screen will be real. According to the returning director, the production team made a point of going the extra mile to film on real locations and use real objects as much as humanly possible – and one of the greatest challenges was putting together the train scene, as he explains:
“[W]e wouldn’t be the first action franchise to do crazy things. However, the DNA of ‘Extraction’ is definitely to do as much practically as possible, so with the train sequence, we fully embraced it. We were on a real train out in the nether regions… away from Prague, out in the mountains, it was amazing and cold and beautiful, on a real train. The helicopters are real, we had real stunt performers, and para-jumpers, and we had army rangers, one of our performers coming out of the chopper was an army ranger. So this is about as real as it gets, and the only CG that we did was background, back plates, which was because the power plant where we got onto the train was not in the same location as where we were filming the train. They just didn’t exist in the same spot, so we had to then recreate that power plant behind them. But everything, you know, the snowing and the helicopter flying in and landing on the train, that was all practical. That was real.”
Hargrave went on to reveal that prioritizing practical effects made the set experience feel very real – sometimes a little bit too real. The director stated that filming a particular helicopter landing was “shockingly difficult” and that the sheer force of the wind from the helicopter’s rotor blades blew him off the train, and what kept him from getting pushed away was the fact that he was tethered in. Even after getting more protection to keep him on the ground, Hargrave had to hold on to the side of the train and “almost fell off” repeatedly.
Another problem that the production team ran into was in post-production, when they realized a helicopter landing they filmed was so perfect it looked fake. So they had to go with a shot in which the helicopter pilot had more trouble landing the chopper:
“When we got back and we watched it, we were like, ‘It looks fake,’ because he lands it and it’s almost like it sticks to the train, it was just so perfect. The guys get off and then he takes off, and we’re like, ‘It looks fake!’ It looks like it’s all on a blue screen and we dropped it down on a crane, and just didn’t move, and then it just takes off.”
Hargrave explained that they had to go with a shot in which the landing looked rougher because their ultimate goal was to have viewers look at the scene and be able to tell that it was all real, or at least be confused enough to wonder and try to find out.
Netflix premieres Extraction 2 on June 16. You can watch the trailer below: