Review: Mile 22

Mile 22
5 10

PLOT: An elite CIA unit, led by the manic James Silva (Mark Wahlberg), is tasked with transporting an asset in the form of an Indonesian street cop (Iko Uwais) through twenty-two miles of hostile territory.

REVIEW: MILE 22 has a pretty interesting production history. It’s been in the works for years, with it originally set-up as an action vehicle for Ronda Rousey (who’s been downgraded to a supporting role) and Iko Uwais, only for it to eventually be reconfigured as a potential Mark Wahlberg franchise, with STX clearly hoping his James Silva becomes the next John Wick.

That seems unlikely though as MILE 22, despite a bevy of impressive action scenes courtesy of helmer Peter Berg, is too clunky a vehicle to catch on in a big way. It’s really obvious that this was a hastily re-packaged movie, with too much bad exposition, including a clunky credits sequence that tries to explain Silva’s childhood (why???), while the character himself is depicted as being a highly wired, ADHD affected super-soldier who never stops talking. Seriously, Wahlberg’s dialogue, which sounds like half-baked David Mamet, is so overwrought that when John Malkovich’s character snaps at him, “stop monologuing you bipolar f**k!,” I felt like standing up and cheering. He’s among the most tiresome big screen heroes in recent memory, although some credit is due to Berg and Wahlberg for at least trying to make a hero that’s a little different. They should have pulled back a bit, and a framing device where Silva provides a running monologue is a bridge too far.

At least, at ninety-five minutes, MILE 22 isn’t bogged down too much, and when the action hits it’s relentless. The problem though is that co-star Iko Uwais, who gets the lion’s share of the big fights, is handicapped by American-style editing and shooting that takes away from the choreography of the fights, and makes them hard to follow. A bit where he’s handcuffed to a gurney and has to fight off two assassins is a great action scene, but too much of it is hard to follow. Ditto a big convoy shootout where, again being handcuffed, he has to dispatch some shooters that make their way to him. At least Berg doesn’t deny us some gruesome kills, but the quick-cutting and close shooting don’t do Uwais any favors.

It should also be noted that Wahlberg is outclassed in the hand-to-hand scraps, with a bit where he dispatches some lightning-fast martial artists a bit hard to swallow. He fares better during the shootouts. As for the rest of the cast, it’s a surprise to see Rousey in a role that’s so light on fighting, as a scene where she’d square off against Uwais would seem natural – but it never happens. Lauren Cohan gets the major female part, as well as one of the most prominent action scenes, where she takes on a hulking opponent (a scene that’s very similar to a Jennifer Garner fight in Berg’s THE KINGDOM). Cohan does her best with the part, but she’s written as being wildly incompetent at times, which makes me wonder how she’s supposed to have survived in a team like Wahlberg’s for so long.

Meanwhile, Wahlberg’s team is guided on the ground by a top-secret logistics team, led by John Malkovich, sporting what has to be one of the worst on-screen toupees I’ve ever seen. I like the idea of MILE 22’s paramilitary unit, but Berg’s film plunges us so quickly into their world that we never really get a chance to understand the dynamic. A big twist towards the end which I’m sure is meant to spin Wahlberg off into more adventures also seems a little too clever for its own good, and doesn’t make much sense given the lead-up.

MILE 22 really is just for action junkies, but even on that level, it could have been a lot better. It’s certainly going to suffer coming so hot on the heels of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT, but there still would have been room for a lower-budgeted hard R B-movie like this, were it not so clunky. Again, there are a handful of cool action beats, but not much more to it than that, and it makes for a surprisingly poor addition to the otherwise excellent Peter Berg/ Mark Wahlberg canon of collaborations.

Source: JoBlo.com



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