Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Iko Uwais, Lauren Cohan, Ronda Rousey, John Malkovich
Director: Peter Berg
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Rating: R for A Litany of F-Bombs and Actual Bombs
Release Date: August 17, 2018
Mile 22 is the fourth collaboration between Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, and by far their worst. Their previous team-ups (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and Patriots Day) covered real-life tragedies and disasters with unflinching intensity. They were at times be difficult to watch, but Berg managed to remain respectful by keeping his focus fixed. Mile 22 has a similar shaky-cam, right-next-to-the-action approach. It isn’t based on a true story, but the verite style seems to suggest that it could be true. That forces Berg to construct a fictional portrait of chaos, which, devoid of any necessary real-life moments to honor, ends up just a mess.
Wahlberg is the ostensible protagonist as James Silva, the ground leader of an elite and secretive paramilitary unit within the CIA. His team is the sort that the government turns to when they have exhausted all other options and do not want the public to know what they are up to. They are tasked with transporting intelligence asset Li Noor (Iko Uwais) 22 miles to an extraction point, where he has promised he will reveal information that will prevent a bomb detonation. Uwais is best known as the star of The Raid and its sequel, and Mile 22 ends up as an excuse for him to show off his action skills in the midst of a convoluted narrative. Berg proves adept at capturing Iwais’ brand of fight choreography, but everything else is exhausting, which is shocking considering that Berg’s action filmmaking is usually reliable. But here he is so undisciplined, with numbing footage of endless gunfire and an editing style that presents way too much information for a human brain to possibly process.
The whole thing is barely an hour and a half, but it feels like forever, but then it leads to a climax that makes it feel 20 minutes too short. There is a major reveal that is far from adequately resolved, which is to say, it is not resolved at all. It is the sort of twist that makes you want to say to the screenwriter, “Don’t the characters want to take care of that?” And the apparent response is, “Oh well, they ran out of time.” Just about the entire film is that careless, but I will grant that it at least features Iwais saying to Wahlberg, “Say hello to your mother for me.”
Mile 22 is Recommended If You Like: Iko Uwais Combat, Incessant Gunfire, Hyperactive Editing, Frequent Explosions
Grade: 2 out of 5 Wristbands