Studio: Phase 4 Films
Director: Nir Paniry
Writer: Nir Paniry, Gabriel Cowan, John Suits
Producer: Gabriel Cowan, John Suits
Stars: Sasha Roiz, Dominic Bogart, Jenny Mollen, Frank Ashmore, Nick Jameson, Richard Riehle
A scientist is forced to solve a murder when his consciousness becomes trapped inside the mind of an accused killer.
“Extracted” is a prime example of how to construct an intelligent science-fiction film by working scope and budgetary limitations into the story’s design. “Extracted” is extraordinary not only in how it manages to turns restrictions into advantages, but in how it crafts a tale of conflict and intrigue without introducing a true villain or placing characters firmly on one side of the good and evil line.
Tom is a passionate scientist whose breakthrough research into brain activity has led to a device that allows its user to relive his/her memories. Tom has philanthropic intentions for his device, hoping it can help trauma victims cope with their past. His investor has a different idea. At the end of his financial rope, and with a new family to support, Tom bends his ideals to accommodate a secondary use for law enforcement. Tom is to enter the memory of an accused criminal to confirm that the man did in fact commit the crime. But when Tom’s consciousness ends up trapped inside the convict’s mind, he is forced to relive the man’s memories until he uncovers the truth that led to the accused murderer’s imprisonment.
The brilliance of the science-fiction in “Extracted” is that its sole purpose is servitude to the story. Immersion in its atmosphere is not dependent upon special effects or scenes featuring flying cars and future technology. It is intentionally simpler than that. “Extracted” takes place in a future so near that it could very well take place today and it is grounded on a plane where highlighting the science is secondary to depicting the human drama driving the story.
Limited by budget and sparsely dressed sets, the tight production is a boon to the film as it aids in the expression of solitary confinement inside the subject’s mind. Independent sci-fi films can get ahead of themselves when ambition far surpasses available resources, but “Extraction” never breaks off more than it can handle. The setting remains believable throughout without being too fantastical, and the overall design suits the plot’s purposes perfectly.
“Extracted” is populated by a bevy of “that guys,” all of whom are deserving of wider recognition for their talents. Each actor on the roster plays a multi-faceted person with complicated convictions and compromised values. Leading the cast is Sasha Roiz, known for roles on “Warehouse 13,” “Grimm,” and the short-lived “Battlestar Galactica” spinoff “Caprica.” Playing his business representative is Nick Jameon, familiar as Russian President Yuri Suvarov on TV’s “24.” Witnessing the two men exchange dialogue about the realities of investment versus the altruistic motivations behind science highlights the deeper personalities that each actor brings to his character.
Not to be overlooked are Dominic Bogart as the accused murder and Frank Ashmore, recently seen as Carl Drybeck in “Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes,” as his ex-con father. They complete the full slate of fully developed personas that could have been wax figures in a less careful film, but who rise above stereotyped characteristics and purposes in “Extracted.” Richard Riehle and his recognizable mustache also stop by for a quick scene.
At just over 80 minutes, “Extracted” runs precisely the right length for a brisk mystery with filling doses of sci-fi intrigue and meaningful suspense. One distraction in the otherwise well-produced thriller is excessive handheld camera work that fails to add texture in scenes where it is over-employed. That aside, nearly every piece of the movie fits into a tautly framed puzzle picture poised to satisfy genre fans. In the vein of “Primer” and “Timecrimes,” “Extracted” is a showcase for smart sci-fi that does not need CGI fireworks or additional zeros in the production budget to be a thoroughly gripping film.
Review Score: 85