Mile 22 review: In recent years, director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg have stumbled upon a partnership that has delivered three intense accounts of real-life events with the combo of Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriot’s Day. All three of these films have been met with pretty warm receptions from both audiences and critics. The two Bergs certainly seemed to have found an effective niche for their respective talents. Mile 22 sees them change gears with an original action movie.
Mile 22 review
Wahlberg plays James Silva, leader of a covert Black-Ops strike team called ‘Overwatch.’ His team are tasked with escorting an Indonesian police officer (Iko Uwais) out of the country when he claims to hold information regarding the location of a weaponized toxic substance. The job won’t be easy as Silva and his team must contend with assassins and corrupt police as they travel the 22 miles from the US Embassy to a plane which is set to fly them to safety.
Mile 22 kicks off proceedings in a perfectly fine fashion. We see the ‘Overwatch’ team in action on a mission that sets off the events of the film. It’s a sequence that handles geography fine and establishes the skills of the team and extremes that they are willing to go to to get the job done. But things quickly take a turn once the film builds more of its set up and piledrives the audience into a ferociously paced second half which leaves you not gasping for breath, more scratching your head wondering the hell is actually going on.
The film uses much of its runtime to set up the mad 22-mile dash, but the actual dash itself is so quick and ferocious that you can’t help but wonder why they didn’t aim to construct a more imaginative journey across the 22 miles. The film only takes place in a handful of locations across the 22 miles and the action is a flavourless choir of cartoonish sound effects and rattling gunfire, punctuated by splatterings of brutal violence. It is all shot with a style that is aggressively disengaging, leading to a confusing final third that will leave you wondering if you fell asleep and missed a chunk.
Peter Berg is a director who has more than demonstrated technical skill behind the camera in his career. Not only are the action sequences choppily edited to the point of where it is very difficult for the eye to make sense of the information being delivered. Even the manner where a conversation is staged is so over-edited that you end up losing sense of where you are in a scene when it is just characters sat down having a conversation in a coffee shop. He never knows when to stop and take a breath to let characters develop beyond offering quick snippets of contrived visual information, and neither does he allow the brutal action to truly land, even as a means of shocking the audience.
The cast of Mile 22 are left adrift in this shambles of an action movie. In what was once probably more of an ensemble piece, the film gives the impression that it has been tweaked and forced to make Wahlberg’s Silva a ‘Bourne-esque’ character, as the title sequence focuses solely on setting up his back-story, marking him as an individual of sharp intellect, nervous ticks and a short temper (he has a very annoying habit of pulling on a rubber band that’s on his wrist). But beyond the odd scene where we see Silva working on a blank jigsaw puzzle, we barely see this ‘superior intellect’ come in to play at all.
Iko Uwais impresses the most amongst the supporting cast, displaying charisma and boasting a physical command of the action scenes, so it is a shame that the editing seems to go out of its way to shroud his obvious skill as an action performer throughout. Elsewhere, Lauren Cohen is left struggling to make her character work, saddled with a half-arsed back story concerning her estranged family, and John Malkovich sports a ridiculous haircut as ‘Mother’, the man calling the shots in the Overwatch control room.
There is very little to recommend Mile 22 beyond the fact that is over quickly. For all its posturing as a muscular thriller, it has nothing for you to get your teeth into, other than shoddily staged and edited action, populated with unlikeable characters. It all amounts to an unimaginative thriller that is lacking in thrills or anything that comes close to being engaging. A dizzying and bizarre action movie that seemingly goes out of its way to be incomprehensible.
Mille 22 review by Andrew Gaudion, Septemeber 2018.