[Spoilers ahead for Netflix movie EXTRACTION].
The film has the Aussie star playing fearless black market mercenary Tyler Rake, who’s enlisted to rescue Ovi, the kidnapped son of an imprisoned international crime lord. Rake is a troubled, almost suicidal protagonist; a broken man, the cause of which we learn has to do with a tragic past. And so a redemption tale unfolds amidst the bullets and carnage, with Rake opting to save this boy and, ultimately, be willing to sacrifice himself to do so.
After being shot repeatedly, Rake receives his coup de grâce with a bullet through the neck. With a final nod, the badass falls from a bridge into the water below. We see what looks like his lifeless body under the water. BUT, we don’t get that complete confirmation with a dead body, do we? And in movie rules, that leaves the door wide open. Sure enough, the final moment of the film has Ovi jump into a pool, rise up, and look at to an out-of-focus figure standing on the side; someone that looks like the Aussie merc. Is that really Rake? Had he survived? Or is poor Ovi just imagining that his hero is still around, looking over him?
The answer: It’s up to you, the audience.
Sure, not really a clear answer, but as director Sam Hargrave explained to Collider, it’s the best option they found after test audiences were split with the original ending. The film’s original conclusion – in the script written by Infinity War and Endgame co-director Joe Russo – did indeed have Rake dying, but half of the audience they tested that ending with found it was too much of a downer.
“We had a version of the movie, and we tested it a lot, and it was not surprising that a lot of people wanted the character to live, and some people wanted him to die. People were torn; it was almost down the middle,” Hargrave said.
“We want to appeal to as many people as possible without compromising the integrity of the story. And so, we think a pretty good compromise is to make an ambiguous ending. If people on one hand feel like the story is complete and is a story of redemption through sacrifice, then for them, it’ll be where the kid is imagining [Rake standing there], and then now you go, ‘Yes, I’m satisfied.’ If you feel like you love Tyler Rake, and you love Chris Hemsworth, and you want a sequel, and you’re like ‘There’s no way, you can’t kill him!’ then that’s Tyler Rake standing there looking at you. So we kind of purposefully did not pull focus to the character standing there.”
Hargave said that they had shot various endings to the film, so it’s clear that the conclusion was up for some debate even during filming. The director’s preferred ending: Rake dies. His death, Hargrave explained, meant “his journey was complete when he came to redemption through sacrifice. He made the choice he was okay with. He had come to terms with his past and the choice he made in the present saved this kid, and if that meant him dying, so be it. And that was his journey in my mind.”
At the end of the day, Hargrave said that they opted for a more “emotionally satisfying” ending rather than “an intellectually satisfying” one, “because the kid gave him something to live for, and now he’s living for that.”
Still, don’t take that as a sign that Rake is alive. It’s still up to you. “So basically, what you see in the movie is a compromise,” said Hargrave. “[…] we’ll give you the best of both worlds, we’re gonna have this ambiguous ending where you can choose your own adventure.”
Of course, if he is alive, it will be an easy cause for sequels.
Extraction can be seen on Netflix right HERE.