Whenever Hollywood makes a film set up in developing countries, racist elements are always obvious to spot. Sadly, Netflix’s Extraction is no different. With a white savior in Chris Hemsworth, there are several aspects of the film that clearly show the racist stereotypes against people of color in Hollywood. And some of them have angered the people of Bangladesh because they got most of it wrong, but some of it right.
Extraction stars Chris Hemsworth, who played the role of a mercenary Tyler Rake. An Indian drug lord hires Rake to retrieve his son from a Bangladeshi rival. In this journey, the movie takes us from Mumbai, to what is supposedly Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is Dhaka where most of the action takes place. However, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Bangkok are where the shooting took place. And that is where Extraction begins to take things wrong.
What Extraction got wrong about Bangladesh?
The movie barely got anything right when it came to the representation of Bangladesh. When Tyler Rake tears through the flats, old Bollywood songs are playing, with women wearing Indian style saris. Moreover, only a few actors are able to speak Bengali. Funnily enough, none of them are from Bangladesh. The Economist reported that one of the residents had this to say about Extraction:
It’s like watching a film set in London, about Londoners, but all the characters sound French.
Moreover, the yellow filter that Extraction uses to depict Bangladesh is something Hollywood uses a lot. And it’s not just limited to Dhaka, but to every third world country that Hollywood depicts in their films. Remember Pakistan in Homeland? It really isn’t as yellow as they showed. The lower the country’s GDP, the more mustard colored it is. With Anthony and Joe Russo, one of the architects of the MCU, one would expect better.
What it got right?
Despite all the racial stereotypes and the yellow filter, Extraction did get some aspects of Bangladesh right. There is a massive drug problem in the country, with drug lords having a lot of sway with officials. However, they got the chain of command wrong. There is a multi-million dollar methamphetamine trade going on in the country, and many police officials are in bed with the drug lords. However, they do not work at their command. A Bangladeshi journalist told the Economist:
The chain of the command is wrong, but the corruption is too right.
Moreover, the state violence depicted in Extraction is quite accurate. The “elite” force in the film is modeled after Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion. Sadly, they are known for killing drug dealers and civilians in alleged “crossfires”. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly published reports about this Battalion, saying:
Security forces persisted with a long-standing pattern of covering up unlawful killings by claiming deaths occurred during a gun-fight or in crossfire.
Extraction was released right in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. In Bangladesh, this lockdown is implemented by the same elite force shown in the film. With such a timed release, Bangladesh wants to take attention away from these serious matters. Yet, Netflix has managed to bring them right back into it.